Showdown! ISPs and the Music Industry in Ireland

March 18, 2009

The Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland has provided a position statement which indicates that the majority of Irish ISPs are not going to accept the role of ‘copyright cops’ and strongly emphasising the breach of privacy that would follow if the recording companies’ demands had been met. The development comes less than two months after a settlement of a court case between the major Irish ISP Eircom and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries , to which IRMA (the Irish Record and Music Association) is affiliated. Eircom was widely reported to have agreed to a ‘three strikes’ deal although it is now reported to have agreed not to oppose any application to block access to a web site.

The upshot is that Ireland may well give a lead in the battle over the use of legal restraints to uphold copyright and deter illegal file-sharing.

The statement of Paul Durrant, General Manager of the ISPAI, is as follows:

Internet Service Providers in Ireland have recently received letters threatening legal action from solicitors representing four major music recording companies. This legal action is spurious and there is no evidence of wrong-doing by Internet Service Providers. These actions could impact on user privacy, damage the development of new internet services, and hurt Ireland’s standing as an e-Commerce hub.

The ISPAI and its members have never condoned the use of its members’ services for theft of copyrighted works of any kind, and continue to operate within the existing legal framework which has provisions for taking action where appropriate. Over two years ago ISPAI initiated meetings with the relevant music industry representative body to explore the issues but this was not followed-up by the music industry.

Irish copyright law provides an avenue for the pursuit of people breaching copyright through the courts. ISPAI members will continue to co-operate fully within these existing legal parameters.

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.

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.

We continue to be open to working with content owners in an industry where innovative new services are rapidly developing.

The Board of Directors of the Internet Service Providers Association and the General Manager have consulted with the members who have voted on a majority basis to approve the release of this position statement.