Eircom to cut illegal downloaders’ broadband for up to 12 months

8 Dec 2010

Ireland’s incumbent telecoms operator Eircom said today it is implementing a protocol that would suspend and ultimately disconnect the broadband service of users who repeatedly infringe copyright. Those users face being cut off for up to a year.

Today the operator launched a new legitimate music service called Eircom MusicHub in collaboration with IRMA and the big record labels EMI, Sony, Warner and Universal.

Eircom said it is implementing a “graduated response programme” to combat copyright infringement. This follows a court settlement last year, where the company agreed to implement a “three strikes” system to punish illegal downloaders, especially those who download from peer-to-peer services.

The company said it does not and will not monitor broadband users’ activities at any stage and won’t put any monitoring software or equipment on its network. Nor will it provide any personal details of customers to any third party, including record companies.

It said that customers who engage in copyright infringing activities would be first informed that their activity is illegal and this would be followed up by written warnings.

“If a customer persists with the illegal activity it may result in a seven-day suspension or year-long disconnection of their broadband service,” Eircom said.

Gathering IP addresses

As part of the agreement between Eircom and the record labels, IRMA will provide Eircom with notifications that will contain the IP address identified with illegal downloading activity along with evidence.

The IP addresses, IRMA said, are captured and processed on its behalf by a third party.

The protocol has been trialled since June and the number of notifications received from the music industry and processed each week has increased to 1,000.

Taking what it described as a leadership role with the music industry, Eircom said in a statement: “At the heart of the protocol is the desire to help our customers to avoid illegal copyright infringement by creating awareness about the issues surrounding copyright infringement and illegal file sharing of copyrighted music.

“Eircom is committed to helping its customers get the most from their broadband service and ensuring customers can access the world of digital music in a legal way. Today’s launch of Eircom MusicHub gives Eircom customers a novel, easy, inexpensive and legal way of accessing music online, which is unique in Ireland, and which reflects our commitment to meeting our customers’ needs. It is a compelling alternative to illegal file sharing.

“The company believes that it has a duty to ensure that the rights of artists and the laws of the state, including copyright law, are upheld, and to take action when illegal activity is brought to our attention. Our obligations to our customers remain paramount, and the primacy of their rights, in particular their rights to privacy, are reflected in the phased structure of the protocol, and in the Eircom MusicHub service launched today.

“Eircom is of the view that these obligations are part of a role that all responsible companies must serve,” the company said.

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