A law suit by the Irish music industry against the country's major ISP has settled out of court, just two weeks into the proceedings. The settlement, whilst not great news for Internet users, is better than it might have been.
The case concerns the Irish telecoms company and ISP, Eircom, which was being sued by the four major music labels - EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG - in the High Court in Dublin. The music companies were alleging that Eircom was liable for copyright infringement by Internet users accessing the ‘Net via the Eircom network. They wanted the court to order Eircom to implement network filtering measures to deal with the alleged copyright infringements.
The out of court settlement is reported on the website of Linx (London Internet Exchange). It is understood that there has been an agreement that Eircom will implement some form of 3-strikes or graduated response measures, and the music industry willcontinue to hire a firm called Dtecnet to monitor and identify alleged copyright infringers. It is not clear what form the 3-strikes measures will take, but presumably, the information supplied by Dtecnet will be forwarded to Eircom, for some form of action to be taken.
Why is this better than it might have been from the users' perspective? Had they succeeded, the Irish music industry would have established a precedent of secondary liabilty for ISPs. The music industry would then use that precedent in political lobbying, in the same way as they use the Sabam v Scarlet case in Belgium - to try to convince policy-makers to mandate the implementation of network filtering on a wider scale throughout Europe.
With an out of court settlement, there is no precedent. Any 3-strikes measures will have to comply with the existing Irish and European law and that means that the privacy of users personal data will have to be respected. And it will depend on the nature of the contract that Eircom has with its users.
This is why the issues of processing of personal data, user contracts and filtering are so important in the Telecoms Package, which is about to go into its second reading in the European Parliament.
The first day's proceedings were reported in the Irish Times
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