||[Oct. 11th, 2010|02:40 pm]
UPC, Ireland's third largest ISP, has prevailed in a court case brought against them by the Irish Recorded Music Association. IRMA had argued that UPC should enforce a three strikes rule against alleged file-sharers on their network using details provided by IRMA without any judicial oversight. Such a system makes the assumption that everyone accused is guilty and punishes entire households for the actions of one family member, it is abhorrent.
Previously Eircom, the largest ISP, had folded to these demands in an out of court settlement, followed shortly and meekly by the second largest, Vodafone.
Since the Irish arm of the recording industry began its efforts to bargain its way out of the grave, UPC had vowed to fight their demands for customer disconnections. Their argument was that, as a mere conduit, they could not be held liable for any supposedly illegal activities conducted by their users.
Is his judgement Justice Charleton pointed out that, just as UPC had indicated, the law does not require them to act against their customers in cases of alleged copyright infringement:
Word has it that two smaller ISPs, confusingly called O2 and 3, have been waiting on the outcome of these proceedings before deciding whether or not to contest similar cases brought against them by IRMA.
"It is not surprising that the legislative response laid down in our country in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, at a time when this problem was not perceived to be as threatening to the creative and retail economy as it has become in 2010, has made no proper provision for the blocking, diverting or interrupting of internet communications intent on breaching copyright"
Looks like the floodgates of common sense have opened.
The question remains: how will this affect the agreement between IRMA, Eircom and Vodafone? Eircom were well aware that being the only ISP implementing a three strikes policy (especially one so biased toward the accuser) would put them at a competitive disadvantage in the broadband market. To mitigate this, part of their agreement included a mandate that IRMA would pursue similar cases against other Irish ISPs, essentially eliminating Eircom's handicap by breaking every other player's legs. Since Vodafone is also colluding with IRMA it seems safe to assume they were making the same demands. Now it looks like that part of the deal has fallen through, so does this mean the whole thing will be called off? Hard to say, but it seems unlikely considering Eircom did not wait until the case was over before sending out the their initial round of first strike warnings.
From the sounds of things, IRMA's next course of action will be to lobby the Irish government for changes to the law that would force everyone to buy buggy whips. Well, even if they succeed in this, at least there is a better chance of a presumption of innocence.
Naturally I would prefer that this industry not mutilate our laws as its final act of defiance. Better for them to fade away quietly and send musicians back to making money they way they are supposed to: by getting up on a stage and performing. After all, one cannot share "being there" over P2P.
- Irish Times: "Last night, David Cullen, a partner with William Fry solicitors, said the ruling 'will have ramifications' for Eircom's agreement with the labels."
- Independent: "Unlike many European countries, including the United Kingdom and France, Ireland has not made any provision for blocking internet sites intent on breaching copyright."
- TechDirt: "Unfortunately, the judge did trot out debunked claims that file sharing was some how destroying the industry, even as more and more evidence has shown the exact opposite."
- ISP Review: "the case itself revealed, above all else, that the legal system simply doesn't understand internet technology and Rights Holders (RH) are continuing to abuse that ignorance."