Vodafone mulls ‘three strikes’ rule on illegal downloads

16 Jun 2010459 Views

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Vodafone has said that while it is in discussions with music rights holders it is still too early to confirm that it will implement the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule as applied by Eircom against illegal file-sharers.

Vodafone, which took over the running of BT’s unbundled local loop (LLU) DSL network in Ireland last year, making it the second largest ISP in the country, told Siliconrepublic.com that discussions with IRMA have indeed started. “It is too early to speculate the outcome,” a spokesperson for Vodafone said.

“We’re engaged in discussions with IRMA and we’re looking forward to a broader discussion. We are acknowledging in principal the concerns raised by IRMA as well as other issues. These talks have just commenced,” the spokesperson said.

Vodafone’s Irish operations issued a statement yesterday confirming it is in discussions with the music industry to “determine appropriate steps that can be taken to address the issue of illegal file sharing in a manner that is consistent with applicable legislation, recent judicial decisions and that takes into account the creators of copyright material whilst also seeking to protect the interests of its own customers.”

It also said that it believes music lovers are prepared to support musicians and performances. “Part of the solution to illegal file sharing must necessarily include the easy availability of legal downloads of music.”

‘Three strikes’ agreement

The ‘three strikes’ agreement established last year between Eircom and the music industry went ahead in recent weeks, despite being brought to court and challenged by the Data Protection Commissioner, after it was found that the monitoring and identification of IP addresses by IRMA was not affecting the protection of personal customer data.

Eircom will cut off broadband access to customers found to be repeatedly illegally sharing copyright material, such as songs and movies, over the network after three warnings.

Vodafone’s rivals O2 and 3 are understood to have received writs from IRMA – which represents the large labels Warner, Universal, Sony BMG and EMI – while cable broadband provider UPC is continuing to fight a legal battle.

In a statement the cable broadband player said: “UPC does not condone piracy and has always taken a strong stance against illegal activity on its network. It takes all steps required by the law to combat specific infringements which are brought to its attention.

“UPC considers that there is no basis under Irish or European law requiring an ISP to monitor or block subscriber traffic on its network.

“UPC’s position remains unchanged. UPC will do everything necessary to comply with its legal obligations but will not voluntarily agree to implement measures such as a graduated response system in the absence of a legal obligation to do so.

“UPC will continue to vigorously defend the ISP liability proceedings taken against it by the music companies,” the company said.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.