Irish ISP ordered to stop using ‘three strikes’ system against illegal file-sharers: “The Irish data protection watchdog has ordered the country’s largest internet service provider (ISP) to stop using its ‘three strikes’ system for identifying and warning alleged illegal file-sharers, according to media reports.”
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
INTERNET SERVICE providers and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about efforts by An Garda Síochána to introduce a blocking system aimed at preventing Irish internet users accessing sites containing child pornography.
The National Bureau of Criminal Investigation has written to ISPs asking them to nominate a contact who could help implement such a system.
In the letter, Det Supt John McCann says members of An Garda Síochána will ‘investigate and identify those domains and sub-domains being used to distribute ‘child pornography’’ as defined under Irish law. When internet users try to access these sites the ISP is requested to display a special ‘Stop! page’, explaining the material requested is illegal under Irish law.
A copy of the letter seen by The Irish Times says the authorities will not seek information identifying ISP customers but they will seek information about other sites visited by these customers in an effort to identify other domains that may warrant being blocked.
The letter was sent last December 28th.
ISPs are concerned that this is a unilateral action by Garda with no legislative basis. At least one ISP has told the Garda that negotiation about the system should be done with a representative body such as telecoms group Alternative Operators in the Communications Market (Alto) or the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland rather than dealing with individual service providers.
The introduction of blocking lists in other jurisdictions has proven highly controversial. In 2009, WikiLeaks published details of the list of sites blocked in Australia. While it included sites containing images of child abuse, the list also included poker sites, WikiLeaks entries and the web pages for a Queensland dentist and dog-boarding kennel.
Last month, the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament voted down European Commission proposals on web blocking and voted instead for measures to tackle the production of child pornography.
‘We don’t support bilateral agreements with the Garda in advance of an EU directive on the matter which may be not be as draconian as this system,’ said Ronan Lupton, chairman of Alto. ‘Such agreements may also detract from Ireland’s attractiveness for investments in the digital media sector.’
Solicitor and head of Digital Rights Ireland, TJ McIntyre, said studies had shown that this type of blocking was very easily evaded and failed to address the main concern, ‘which should be removing this material at source’.
‘This is an area where legislation is required, not a private agreement with no judicial oversight,’ said Mr McIntyre.
Some in the industry are concerned that if ISPs agree to block child pornography, they could subsequently be asked to block access to other types of material, such as that protected by copyright.
Despite legal efforts by the Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma), only Eircom implements a ‘three strikes’ system where subscribers found to be repeatedly sharing copyrighted music are cut off from the internet.
Judge says illegal filesharing is damaging music industry, but Irish law does not allow ISPs to cut off offenders’ internet
* Josh Halliday
* guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 October 2010 14.57 BST
Four of the world’s largest record companies have failed in an attempt to get the ‘three strikes’ rule enforced against illegal filesharers in Ireland.
Warner Music, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI brought the case against UPC, one of Ireland’s largest broadband providers, in order to establish a legal precedent that would force internet service providers to cut off illegal filesharers’ internet connections.
Today the Irish high court ruled that laws to identify and cut off internet users were not enforceable in Ireland, meaning the country is not in line with European copyright law. The record companies were looking to force internet service providers to adopt the ‘three strikes rule’, forcing those accused three times of sharing copyrighted material to be disconnected from the internet.
The court noted that a ’substantial portion’ of UPC’s 150,000 customers were illegally sharing music.
In a judgment published today, Justice Peter Charleton said that laws were not in place to block the internet connections of those accused of sharing copyrighted content. However, he acknowledged that the creative industries are being blighted by internet piracy.
‘This not only undermines their [the creative industries] business but ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living,’ said Charleton. ‘It is destructive of an important native industry.’
The case was being closely watched by other internet service providers in the country as the music industry intensifies its push to penalise those sharing copyrighted work.
The Irish Recorded Music Association, which forced Ireland’s largest broaband provider, Eircom, to adopt the ‘three strikes’ policy on filesharing of its own accord after an out-of-court settlement in February 2009, said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the ruling, adding that it would look to the government to support the cause of rights holders.
Speaking after the judgment, the IRMA chairman, Willie Kavanagh, said: ‘We are extremely disappointed that the high court today has effectively determined that the Irish state has failed to protect the constitutional rights of copyright holders by failing to implement EU copyright directives correctly.’
IRMA had asked the internet service providers UPC and Vodafone to operate the three strikes ruling in the same way that Eircom had, but both declined, citing the rights of their respective broadband customers. A 48-hour scan of the two broadband networks found some 37,500 copyright infringements from UPC subscribers alone, IRMA said in June this year.
UPC, Ireland’s third largest broadband provider, said it would continue to work with rights holders, other internet service providers, the Data Protection Commission, the National Consumer Agency and government departments to address the issue of illegal filesharing.
‘UPC has repeatedly stressed that it does not condone piracy and has always taken a strong stance against illegal activity on its network,’ the company said in a statement. ‘It takes all steps required by the law to combat specific infringements which are brought to its attention and will continue to co-operate with rights holders where they have obtained the necessary court orders for alleged copyright infringements.
‘Our whole premise and defence [is] focused on the ‘mere conduit’ principle, which provides that an internet service provider cannot be held liable for content transmitted across its network,’ the company said. ‘Today’s decision supports the principle that ISPs are not liable for the actions of internet subscribers’.
12 October, 2010
The decision is being hailed as a victory for internet service providers
The High Court in Ireland has ruled that laws cutting off internet users who have illegally downloaded content cannot be enforced in the country.
It is a victory for Irish internet service provider UPC which took the legal action against copyright owners, including EMI and Sony.
But it will be a blow to the music and film industry, which wants the strict rules as a deterrent against piracy.
It is likely to have a knock-on effect to similar policies in other countries.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton said in his judgement that illegal file-sharing was ‘destructive of an important native industry’.
But he added that there were no laws in Ireland to allow the disconnection of pirates from the net and that any attempts to do so could be in breach of European legislation.
UPC said in a statement that it ‘does not condone piracy and has always taken a strong stance against illegal activity on its network’.
‘Our whole premise and defense focused on the mere conduit principal which provides that an internet service provider cannot be held liable for content transmitted across its network,’ the statement added.
The Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma) is considering its next move.
‘The judge was very clear he wanted to rule in his favour but couldn’t because the legislation wasn’t in place,’ Lindsey Holmes, a spokeswoman for Irma told the BBC.
‘The committee is meeting today. There is a couple of options – to appeal to the Supreme Court or to lobby government to change the legislation,’ she added.
In May, Ireland’s biggest net firm Eircom began the process of implementing a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy, sending warning letters to those identified as illegal file-sharers.
Although it has threatened to cut off internet access for persistent pirates it has not yet done so and it is not clear how this latest ruling will affect its campaign.
France is pursuing a similar ‘three strikes and you are out’ policy.
In the UK, the Digital Economy Act makes provision for similar policies although there are no current plans to cut people off.
Mark Mulligan, an analyst with research firm Forrester, thinks it is unlikely to happen in the UK.
‘I don’t think we will see three strikes imposed from the state,’ he said.
‘Although the legislation is framed, there is still so much of it that is vague. The implementation will be down to ISPs, content providers and Ofcom and is likely to be watered down,’ he said.
In private agreements with copyright holders, several law firms have begun writing to thousands of people identified as illegal file-sharers asking them to pay a fine or face court.
In September it emerged that activisits had targeted some of these firms and posted lists of those accused on the web
ACS:Law had the names and addresses of more than 5,000 people, alongside the pornographic films they were accused of downloading, published on the web.
It faces fines of up to £500,000 for the data breach.
Irish ISPs reject music industry’s file-sharer demands: “Irish internet service providers (ISPs) have rejected claims that they are responsible for users’ copyright infringement. They have said that their operations are protected by law.”
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
Post from: TorrentFreak
While the Pirate Bay was on trial in Sweden, music industry lobbyists were pressuring ISPs in Ireland and Norway to block access to the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker. Last week, the Irish ISP Eircom stated that they don’t plan to do so without a court order, and the Norwegian Internet provider Telenor has followed suit.
Ragnar Kårhus of Telenor said that they follow the law, and not the demands of the music industry. He doesn’t see what law would require them to block sites. ‘This would be the same as demanding that the postal service should open all letters, and decide which ones should be delivered,’ he says.
Previously, a Danish judge ruled last year that Tele2 had to block its users from accessing The Pirate Bay. IFPI argued that Tele2 was assisting in mass copyright infringement, and that access to the site therefore had to be blocked. IFPI is now using this decision in an attempt to force ISPs in other countries to do the same.
However, Kårhus points out that there is a huge difference between the situation in Norway and Denmark. There is no court ruling in Norway, he argued, and a letter from the rights holders is not sufficient. ‘It is important that these kind of decisions should be made after handling in the judicial system – namely the police and a court of law,’ Kårhus said.
Interestingly, the Norwegian Minister of Education said recently that the music industry should embrace the Internet instead of fighting it. ‘All previous technology advances have led to fears that the older format would die. But TV did not kill radio, the Web did not kill the book, and the download is not going to kill music,’ he said.
It is uncertain whether IFPI will follow though with their threats and go after Telenor in court. It wouldn’t be the first time that legal threats have been used as a mechanism for applying pressure.
The beginning of the end?
Last month, Eircom announced that at the behest of the music industry it will disconnect customers who are allegedly sharing copyrighted material. Initially the ISP planned to stand up for its customers in court. However, it didn’t have the courage of its convictions and the case was aborted. Capitulating to the music industry’s demands, Eircom agreed to start disconnecting those accused of illicit file-sharing.
But that wasn’t enough. Now the industry wants more and is ordering Eircom to block access to any sites it wants blocked. And it doesn’t end there.
Smelling blood, the music industry is ratcheting up the pressure and they are now demanding that all ISPs censor the Internet by blocking access to all file-sharing related websites.
And the worrying news is it’s already a partially done deal. The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) has already convinced Eircom to comply, and is warning the other Internet providers in Ireland that they should follow suit, or face legal action.
The first and primary target is The Pirate Bay. This comes as no surprise of course, as the music industry’s IFPI has already succeeded in blocking the largest BitTorrent tracker in Denmark, after which they attempted to do the same in Norway and Italy. In Italy the Internet providers initially complied, but this decision was later overturned in court.
As for the next targets for censorship – for which a list is currently being drawn up by Irma – this is how the industry’s scheme will work. Under the terms of an agreement between Eircom and Irma, Eircom will not oppose any court application, meaning that orders requesting the blockage of a particular website will be automatically granted. A spokesman for Eircom confirmed that Eircom ‘‘will not oppose any application [Irma] may make seeking the blocking of access from their network’’ to ‘blacklisted’ websites.
The other Irish ISPs are now facing legal action from the music industry if they don’t give in to IRMA’s demands within seven days. The ISPs are baffled by the aggressive approach by the music industry, and are calling for protection to prevent worse.
‘We don’t support illegal activity on our network but this is an unprecedented agreement,’ said Alex French of Ireland’s leading Wi-Fi service Bitbuzz. ‘Is the music industry planning to become Ireland’s de facto internet censor?’
So it seems. However, Eircom could be digging an even deeper hole for itself. By agreeing to censor the Internet at the behest of not the police, but a private and commercially driven organization, it has effectively dumped its own common carrier protection.
Furthermore, The Pirate Bay (or any other sites Ericom intend to block) have never been deemed illegal in Ireland. This has to be seen as a very worrying development. So, open the floodgates, everyone is going to want sites blocked soon and if you’ve got enough cash, it’s on the cards with Eircom. At the very least, let’s hope Eircom is going to make its list of banned sites public, along with their reasons for blocking each and every site, properly referenced under the law.
And let’s hope the rest of Ireland’s ISPs stand up for themselves.
IE – Music-swapping sites to be blocked by internet providers: “(Sunday Post)
Irish internet users are to be blocked from accessing music swapping websites, as internet service providers bow to pressure from the music industry. Eircom, the country’s biggest internet provider, is to start blocking its internet customers from accessing music swapping. The country’s other internet providers have been told by the Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma) to follow suit or face legal action. If the music industry is successful, Ireland will become the first European country to completely block access to hundreds of file-sharing websites.”
(Via QuickLinks Update.)