Internet body labels IRMA legal threat ‘spurious’

13 Mar 2009

The recent threat of legal action from Irish music industry body IRMA to Irish ISP’s that do not comply to the same ‘three strikes’ terms as Eircom, has been labelled as “spurious” by the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI).

Paul Durrant, general manager of the ISPAI, said there is “no evidence of wrong doing” on the part of Irish internet service providers (ISPs).

IRMA’s letter, received last month by ISPs across Ireland, asked these companies to follow Eircom in removing customers found to be illegally accessing copyright material. The letter stated that this request is in accordance with Irish and European law.

“These actions could impact on user privacy, damage the development of new internet services and hurt Ireland’s standing as an e-commerce hub,” Durrant explained.

He went on to say that the ISPAI and its members have never condoned the use of its members’ services for theft of copyrighted works of any kind, and continue to operate within the existing legal framework, which has provisions for taking action where appropriate.

“Over two years ago, ISPAI initiated meetings with the relevant music industry representative body to explore the issues, but this was not followed up by the music industry,” he said.

Durrant stated that existing Irish copyright law already gives IRMA a route to legally pursuing through the courts people found to be in breach of copyright.

“Privacy of user communications is protected in European and Irish legislation. ISPs cannot be expected to ignore these, merely because it does not suit another private party,” he added.

Durrant also said that IRMA’s request would breach the privacy of customers, and would have serious implications for the continued location of international e-business in this country and the jobs this generates.

“The ISPAI is disappointed that the great potential of the internet, to provide opportunities to connect with users in new ways and develop new business models, is being missed by the music recording industry.”