Irish ISPs Reject Record Biz’s Three-Strikes Demand, EU Opposition Stirs Again

The major labels may have successfully used an out-of-court settlement to convince telco Eircom to warn, warn, then disconnect its copyright-infringing broadband customers – but the rest of Ireland’s ISPs aren’t going to play ball.

After its February court action against Eircom, the Irish Recorded Music Association – representing EMI, WMG, UMG and Sony (NYSE: SNE) – reportedly wrote to companies including mobile operator 3 Ireland and hotspot outfit Bitbuzz, warning of legal action if they did not follow suit. But the Internet Service Providers in Ireland group has jointly written back after a majority of its members agreed to snub the call.

From the full letter: “This legal action is spurious and … could impact on user privacy, damage the development of new internet services. Privacy of user communications is protected in European and Irish legislation. ISPs can not be expected to ignore these merely because it does not suit another private party. The great potential of the internet, to provide opportunities to connect with users in new ways and develop new business models, is being missed by the music recording industry.” Via Reg.

In the UK, six ISPs trialled sending warnings to transgressors on labels’ behalf last year; the labels here still want to institute three-strikes, which is also being voted upon by French politicians in the next few weeks, but the Digital Britain report which would decide how to tackle illegal P2P in the UK is still in consultancy stages.

The European Parliament in September voted for an amendment to European Commission legislation that would force ISPs to get a court order before disconnecting customers, but it was withdrawn on passing to the Council Of Ministers in November. The amendment has now been reintroduced, with original author Guy Bono MEP warning: “Europe will not allow the UMP (President Sarkozy’s party) to trample the fundamental rights of French citizens.”