Eircom has 21 days to respond to halt ‘three strikes’ order by DPC

19 Dec 2011

The Data Protection Commission has given Eircom 21 days to respond to its decision to instruct the operator to halt its ‘three strikes’ policy against music piracy. Under the policy, users caught downloading copyrighted material would be warned three times otherwise their broadband would be cut off for 12 months.

The decision will come as a blow to the recorded music industry which, as part of a settlement in a court case against Eircom in 2009, got the incumbent operator to agree to implement a ‘three strikes’ policy to combat the wholesale downloading of copyrighted material.

This set in motion a court battle between the record companies and UPC, which declined to implement a similar policy. UPC won the case in October last year.

As part of the agreement between Eircom and the record labels, IRMA would provide Eircom with notifications that would contain the IP address identified with illegal downloading activity along with evidence. The IP addresses were understood to be captured and processed on behalf of IRMA by a third party.

“I can confirm we have concluded our investigation on the above matter and have communicated the outcome to Eircom. It has 21 days to respond,” a spokesperson for the Data Protection Commissioner told Siliconrepublic.com.

“Our investigation was commenced on foot of a complaint from an individual who alleged they had received a warning letter about access to copyrighted material in error.”

The decision by the Data Protection Commission will also touch a nerve in terms of a recent decision by Europe’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, in the dispute between Scarlet Extended SA, an ISP owned by Belgacom, and Belgian management company SABAM.

The court concluded that internet access is a human right and that EU law precludes injunctions being taken against internet service providers (ISPs), requiring them to block users from illegally sharing music and video files.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years