Ireland’s largest internet service provider (ISP) Eircom, once an advocate against the 3 strikes rule, entered into an agreement in early 2009 after a short court battle with EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner to implement the 3 strikes rule against its customers.
Although the 3 strikes rule has been considered by a number of European ISPs, most have opted against it and have refused to place such restrictions on their service. Many have had to fight lengthy legal battles to prevent its implementation but have pursued.
The 3 strikes rule essentially means Eircom prevent their customers from illegal file sharing of copyright material by disconnecting paying customers if any of the US companies EMI, Sony, Universal or Warner alleges that any subscriber, or anyone else for that matter, whether known or unknown to the subscriber, uses their broadband connection to illegally download copyright material.
Eircom crumbled at the early stages of litigation and became (and remain) the only ISP in Ireland (and one of the very few in Europe) to place such restrictions on its customers.
However, their breakaway idea to penalise its customers at the whim of foreign companies has back fired. A generation of people who have grown up with an unrestricted internet have only to turn to Eircom’s rival ISP ‘UPC’ for an uninterrupted service.
UPC were also taken to court by the music industry but opted to fight. Where Ireland’s largest ISP buckled against the foreign companies in the early stages of litigation, its little brother UPC fought the good fight… and won!
Eircom live with this competitive disadvantage of being obligated to penalise their customers on the instructions of foreign companies.
Eircom were rewarded by the US music industry for agreeing to restrict their customers internet access by offering them the MusicHub service. It is suspected that this service has been a complete flop as Eircom refuse to disclose its number of users.
Eircom now believe that other ISPs should do as they have done and “view that these obligations are part of a role that all responsible companies must serve”.
However, it does not look likely in an age of such competitiveness and at a time of such passionate views on the internet being kept free and unrestricted that anyone else will make the same mistake and shoot itself in the foot!
Illegal file sharing does need to be tackled as the law on copyright must be adhered to, but any company who appoint themselves Judge, Jury and Executioner of their own customers when it comes to internet restrictions can only expect to pay the consequences.