by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
censorship, copyright, filter, ireland, three strikes


Three Strikes Approach Rejected By Irish Data Protection Commissioner, Gov't Seeks Censorship Plan Instead

from the where-will-it-end? dept

The contentious nature of the "three strikes" response to unauthorized sharing of copyright materials can be seen by the legal battles being fought around it across Europe. That's particularly the case in Ireland, which has emerged as a key testing ground for the approach and its legality.

Back in 2009, the IFPI sued the ISP Eircom for copyright infringement, and the latter settled by agreeing to implement a three strikes policy. The Irish Recorded Music Association then started sending letters to other Irish ISPs demanding they do the same. One Irish judge approved the three strikes approach, but another judge ruled ISPs were under no legal obligation to implement it.

And now we have the latest twist in this continuing saga: Eircom has been ordered to halt its three strikes scheme in a ruling by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner because of concerns about users' privacy. This follows an investigation that was triggered by the earlier incident in which Eircom sent out first warning letters to innocent account holders.

However, this is by no means the end of the story. The Irish government is now considering how to plug perceived gaps in existing laws:

Minister of State for Enterprise Seán Sherlock is to publish an order early in the new year that is expected to allow music publishers, film producers and other parties to go to court to prevent internet service providers from allowing their customers access to pirate websites.
But as usual, the recording industry's demands are for ever-more extreme powers:
EMI Ireland recently warned the Government that it would take legal action against the State if the Government did not address the problem.

Its chief executive, Willie Kavanagh, is not ruling out going ahead with this if the statutory order does not give companies such as his a clear right to seek court injunctions against internet service providers that allow access to music and video piracy websites.

This attempt to pressure a national government into changing the law for the convenience of a group of companies unwilling to move with the times is troubling. The logical conclusion of this kind of thinking is to turn ISPs into the content industry's private police force, letting the former do the dirty work and get the blame, while the latter sit back and enjoy the benefits of their monopoly pricing.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Dementia (profile), Dec 19th, 2011 @ 4:06pm

    I'm waiting for a government to take the stand that if the companies want to play that way then copyright should just be abolished. I know, it'll never happen, but I can dream grand dreams can't I?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    cg15 (profile), Dec 19th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    The contentious nature

    The contentious nature of the "three strikes" response to unauthorized sharing of copyright materials can be seen by the legal battles being fought around it across Europe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 4:37pm


    No you may not dream grand dreams. Grand dreaming has been patented. Please also note that dreaming things that are not permitted by the government such as what you have mentioned here will label you a terrorist supporter. Please cease your free thoughts and dreams at once or be subjected to a lifetime of prison for supporting terrorists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Squid Lips, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 4:45pm

    Mean while...

    ... I continue to pound my head against the wall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), Dec 19th, 2011 @ 5:22pm


    It really is somewhat incredible that they would consider suing the government over this. Perhaps their thinking is that the government isn't holding up it's end of the bargain (enforcing copyrights) and so they are suing them on some violation of contract grounds or some such.

    This sounds more like biting the hand that feeds you. The government grants you a copyright and you sue them for not giving you enough. I'm not familiar with the basis of copyright law in Ireland, but in the US the constitution merely states that congress can grant copyrights, not that they must. Suing in that case would be like suing your employer for not giving you a bigger bonus when all your contract stated was that they could give you one, not that they would or how big it would be if they did.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 10:01pm

    Taking Legal Action Against A Government For Obeying The Law ...

    Is there a special term for this degree of sheer idiotic ... facepalm?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    PaulT (profile), Dec 19th, 2011 @ 11:25pm

    "allow access to music and video piracy websites."

    So piracy of books, magazines, photography, PC games and other software is still OK?

    Anyway, this trite little phrase shows most of the problems intelligent people have with these things. On its face, this is a nice little thing that should be obvious. It's only when you look at the details that it becomes a nightmare. What constitutes a "piracy website"? Who comes up with the definitions and distinctions between them and a site with mostly legitimate uses? Who maintains the list? What is the procedure for getting sites on and off the list? What is the recourse for innocent sites who find themselves blocked?

    Any answer to these questions will probably have implications for legitimate competition, the level of corporate influence on government and any number of freedoms... and probably have little effect on overall piracy so long as no attempt to service customers is made.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 11:47pm

    I think the entertainment industry should go play Age of Empires instead of trying to create one in the real world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2011 @ 1:19am

    And more people keeps pointing out why SOPA doesn't apply to only foreign websites.

    Those type of legislation makes me think that content owners where waste disposal cleaners, because only those can bare the stink coming out of those desperate attempts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    MAJikMARCer (profile), Dec 20th, 2011 @ 6:51am

    never going to stop it

    Are these entertainment companies really this naive? Piracy will continue because the market isn't fixed. It will be driven further underground, but it'll still happen.

    I liken this to pot prohibition. It's easy to grow at home, but due to laws people will find dealers instead, funding a serious criminal enterprise (just look towards Mexico).

    This'll end up being the next "War on...", with the government spending billions to stop something that most people will still do anyway.

    So good on ya entertainment companies, keep demonizing everyone for your shortsightedness. Then fill the jails with 'pirates' and bankrupt people with outrageous fines.

    Just don't blame us for laughing at the inevitable demise of your 'gatekeeper' industry. Creators and consumers will survive this. You will not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    At Random, Dec 20th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    The nature of the problem

    Movie Boss: The financials are looking good this year.
    Underling: They sure are boss, but we have a problem.
    Movie Boss: I know, so many terrible scripts that even we wouldn't dream of using.
    Underling: Really? Explain Troll 2 then? ... But, actually, nevermind, the scripts aren't the problem.
    Movie Boss: Troll 2 ha.. hahahaha... no one can explain how that got made, but if it isn't scripts, it must be the divas, the unions, the directors, the accountants...
    Underling: Nope, it's not those, though with those, I still have no idea how we ever actually make any movies at all.
    Movie Boss: Me neither, but it all seems to happen, despite them all. You better not be saying that the problem is me and my pay packet? I work hard for that money, you know.
    Underling: You do? cof I mean You DO! No, it's not you and your ever increasing pay packet, though at some point you'll be earning more than the studio which could cause problems. The problem is, drumroll, piracy?
    Movie Boss: Pyra what now?
    Underling: Movie piracy, where people copy movies and distribute them
    Movie Boss: Why is this a problem?
    Underling: They copy and distribute our movies without paying us anything.
    Movie Boss: F@*$! They'll destroy us. It costs a fortune to pay me, and a slightly lesser fortune to make a movie, if people can get them for free, we'll be out of business in a week. When did this start, Sunday? Monday?
    Underling: About a decade ago?
    Movie Boss: What now?
    Underling: About a decade ago, is when it got serious, five years ago is when it got calamitous.
    Movie Boss: If we're making more movies and more money than anytime since the golden age of cinema, how can we call it calamitous?
    Underling: My reckoning shows that if piracy wasn't happening and people were paying for the product instead, then you'd be making at least twice what you're making now.
    Movie Boss: Ahhhhhh. Those thieving B*st&^%*.
    Here's what we do, you take the change from the petty cash box and buy the politicians.
    Underling: Which ones?
    Movie Boss: HAhahahahaah... which ones... moron...
    All of them you idiot.
    Underling: But won't the tech industry do the same and they have even more money to throw.
    Movie Boss: God you're naive. The tech industry is still developing. That means on the whole, the people at the top are still actually doing things that are useful and techy.
    That's no way to do business, what you really need for business to work properly are people with no real skills and certainly no real knowledge about how to do anything useful.
    Then the parts of our brains that are empty, can be filled with scheming and so on.
    Underling: I was wondering how come I work so closely with the movie business, I personally can't stand it.
    Movie Boss: Me neither, but if it weren't for the movie business we'd have to be in the drugs trade or running numbers.
    Underling: Or the music industry.
    Movie Boss: Yeah, that'd work. Basically anything where limiting access increases profits.
    Underling: oh man, someday I'm going to run a studio, then we won't let anyone see any of our movies at all. I'll be so much richer than you.
    Movie Boss: I won't care, I'll have ascended by then.

    Movie Boss: You don't think that with increased piracy and us getting increased profits that there might actually be a link between the two..
    Underling: What's that boss?
    Movie Boss: Oh nothing... Get me a burrito latte and an aspiring starlet.
    Underling: Right away boss.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2011 @ 9:32am

    "EMI Ireland recently warned the Government that it would take legal action against the State if the Government did not address the problem."


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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