A coalition of Irish ISPs has rebuffed the music industry's attempts to force a "three strikes" disconnection policy on all of Ireland's major internet providers.
The ISP group sent an open letter to the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) on Friday, calling recent legal threats against them "spurious," stating they won't ignore established privacy law to aide the music industry's campaign against illegal music swappers.
In late February, IRMA sent letters to Ireland's internet service providers (and unrelated internet firms) demanding they implement a French-style "three strikes" rule and universally block websites the music industry claims give illegal access to copyrighted music like The Pirate Bay.
IRMA represents the "big four" labels: EMI, Sony-BMG, Universal, and Warner.
The letters warned that Eircom, Ireland's largest internet provider, had already agreed to its demands as part of an out of lawsuit settlement deal. Eircom also agreed not to oppose any court action taken by the labels in the future.
After weeks of silence on the issue, the Internet Service Providers in Ireland (ISPAI) released a statement of position saying they're under no legal obligation to follow IRMA's orders.
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. To do so would breach the privacy of our users as well as having serious implications for the continued location of international e-business in this country and the jobs these generate.
According to ISPAI's website the org's members include BT Ireland, O2, Verizon Ireland, Vodafone, Clearwire, Google Ireland, UPC Ireland, and...Eircom. The letter states the ISPAI board of directors and general manager consulted with its members, who voted on a majority basis to approve the position statement.
ISPAI's letter says its members have never condoned the use of their internet services for theft of copyrighted material and will continue to operate "within the existing legal framework" to take actions where appropriate.
The group also adds this barb:
ISPAI is disappointed that 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. The Internet has revolutionised countless other services where consumers have benefited from any-time accessibility, wider choice and reduced prices.
A full copy of the letter is available here (PDF). ®