Irish ISP will disconnect Internet users after three unsubstantiated copyright claims

Eircom, a major Irish ISP, will now disconnect its users from the Internet if they receive three unsubstantiated copyright infringement claims from the record labels. The record labels are vowing to hold other ISPs to the same deal, wh‎ich is part of a court settlement in a lawsuit against Eircom. The UK has just rejected this measure, and initiatives to spread this across the EU and the US have died as well. Good thing, too — as I've written before, this is an insanely dangerous and disproportionate proposal.

After all, you don't hear the record labels offering to have their Internet connections cut off if they send out three false copyright accusations. The Internet's a single wire that delivers freedom of speech, of assembly and of the press — it's a conduit for civic engagement, health care, employment, education, distant family, love and life. Disconnecting people from the Internet on the basis of an unsubstantiated accusation, without a court order, without a chance to defend yourself against your accusers, without a chance to see and challenge the evidence — it's positively medieval. Shame on Ireland — so much for their high-tech economic miracle.

As part of the settlement, the record companies will supply Eircom with the IP addresses of all persons who they detect illegally uploading or downloading copyright works.

Eircom will then contact the subscribers directly and either warn them or terminate their account.

Willie Kavanagh, chairman of EMI Records, said he was delighted with the outcome and commended Eircom's far-seeing approach.

During the court case it was claimed music piracy is costing record companies here up to €14 million a year.

Other ISPs contacted by The Irish Times last night could not confirm if they would implement the system. A spokeswoman for 3 Ireland, which has 130,000 mobile broadband customers, said it would be "happy to look into the matter".

Ronan Lupton, chairman of Alto, which represents telecoms operators other than Eircom, said the agreement "is not one enforceable on the rest of the industry given the direct nature of the action against Eircom".

Internet users face shutdown over illegal music downloads