An Irish ISP stood up to record companies, and now they’re taking it to court

Labels go to court to force Ireland's second largest ISP to impose three-strikes policy.


Tim Sampson

Internet Culture

Published Feb 12, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 6:27 pm CDT

Some of the world’s largest record labels are taking Ireland’s second largest Internet service provider to court.

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Following a failed effort three-and-a-half years ago by Sony, Universal and Warner, the record labels are once again trying to force Irish Internet service provider UPC to implement a three-strikes policy against pirating customers.

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The companies, represented by the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) have already had some success in stamping out piracy in Ireland. In 2010, the group successfully pushed the country’s largest ISP, Eircom, to implement an anti-piracy policy against its own subscribers. But when IRMA turned its sights on UPC, the battle went all the way to Ireland’s High Court, which decided IRMA did not have the legal standing to compel ISPs to punish their own subscribers.

But now IRMA says that online piracy legislation enacted in 2012 gives them the necessary legal standing to once again take on UPC in court, according to a report in TorrentFreak.

In preparing for their renewed legal challenge, IRMA tracked UPC customers during the month of November, during which time the group says says it documented 7,757 cases of copyright infringement carried out by UPC subscribers, according to the Irish Times.

IRMA would like to see UPC apply the same three-strikes model that Eircom has employed. IRMA argues that this system has been effective in stamping out piracy, with only 0.2 percent of warned users actually proceeding to the third-strike, at which point they’re disconnected by the ISP. However, this may not be conclusive. Customer’s who’ve been warned may simply be covering their tracks better or using anonymous Internet connections. A recent international study concludes that the three-strikes system is ineffective for these reasons.

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For it’s part, UPC is arguing that the 2012 law does not specifically mandate a graduated response system and thus one should not be imposed by the court. The ISP claims that the three-strikes system raises a “serious question of freedom of expression and public policy and demands fair and impartial procedures in the appropriate balancing of rights.”

The case is set to go before a Commercial Court sometime this spring. It may be an uphill fight for UPC, as Irish courts have recently shown an interest in curbing piracy. One court recently barred ISPs from providing access to illegal file-sharing sites like The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents.

H/T Torrent Freak | Photo by Jennifer Gensch/Flickr (CC BY SA-2.0)

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*First Published: Feb 12, 2014, 6:17 pm CST