Irish internet provider Eircom has bowed to litigious pressure from four major music labels to implement a French-style "three strikes" regime where customers repeatedly accused of illegal filesharing have their internet access cut off.
The decision comes as part of a lawsuit settlement with EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner, which accused the ISP of knowingly facilitating copyright infringement. The companies claim Eircom not only turned a blind eye to illegal music downloading, but furtively promoted the practice by doing things like advertising its services on the Pirate Bay and offering broadband packages pitched as allowing for 5,000 songs to be downloaded per month.
Eircom had argued it was under no obligation to monitor the content of traffic over its network.
The music labels originally wanted the court to order Eircom to install software from a US firm to detect copyrighted music files sent over its network. The ISP objected, saying the software could breach its customer's privacy.
Instead, Eircom settled for the increasingly-familiar three-strikes "graduated response" program. The first time a subscriber's IP is detected infringing copyright, a warning is sent out. The second time, the subscriber is cautioned that they will be disconnected. Number three is the big disconnect.
The four music companies will supply Eircom with the IP addresses of folks they claim are illegally uploading or downloading copyrighted works.
"High Court proceedings between four major record companies, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner and Eircom which have been at trial for eight days, have been settled on an amicable basis with both sides expressing satisfaction with the outcome," Eircom said in a joint statement with the record companies. ("Amicable basis." Good, good. Look natural. Keep smiling. And don't look at the gun.)
The record companies are delighted, of course, and hope to put similar agreements in place with other ISPs in Ireland. ®