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.