BT vows to fight big four music labels’ ‘three strikes’ case

4 Jul 2009

Ireland’s second largest telecoms operator has vowed to ‘strongly defend’ against efforts by the big four music labels – EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner – to get it to implement the ‘three strikes’ action against illegal downloading that was agreed with Eircom earlier this year.

In a statement last night BT said: “BT Ireland has received notification that proceedings have been issued against it which seek an injunction restraining it, as an internet service provider, from infringing copyright in certain sound recordings.

“BT Ireland believes there is no legal basis for such a claim and the proceedings will accordingly be strongly defended,” the company said.

Both BT and cable broadband provider UPC are due in the High Court on Monday following the issuing of plenary summons by the big four record companies.

The case stems from the out-of-court settlement agreed between the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) – which represents the Big Four labels – and Eircom in January, whereby Eircom agreed to implement a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy against illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) downloaders.

In recent months, Irish ISPs have received legal letters from IRMA’s solicitors asking them to follow Eircom or face legal action.

“UPC has made its position clear from the outset – it will not agree to a request that goes beyond what is currently provided under existing legislation,” the company said last week.

“There is no basis under Irish law requiring ISPs to control, access or block the internet content its users download. In addition, the rights holders’ proposal gives rise to serious concerns for data privacy and consumer contract law,” UPC said.

In recent weeks, the French Constitutional Court overturned the controversial HADOPI legislation that introduced a ‘three strikes’ regime in France for persistent copyright infringers, which would eventually result in the perpetrator losing their internet connection.

The HADOPI legislation, the French Constitutional Court ruled, goes directly against a decision in the European Parliament – Amendment 138 – whereby disconnecting alleged copyright infringers would violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of internet users.

By John Kennedy

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