An internet provider in Ireland has reached an agreement with four major record publishers to shut down the internet access of anyone accused - by the record companies - of illegally downloading music.
The deal between Eircom and EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner means Eircom customers caught downloading music from peer-to-peer services will receive warnings for their first two accusations, and will have their service shut down on the third. The settlement came just over a week into a copyright infringement lawsuit between the internet provider and the record publishers over claims that the ISP was actively encouraging file sharing.
The record companies had initially wanted Eircom to install software that could detect "fingerprints" of unauthorized music, but the company claimed it wouldn't be "technically feasible" to do so. Instead, a compromise was reached: The record companies will provide Eircom with IP addresses of people they detect downloading music, and the ISP will take action based on that.
How will the record companies monitor online activity to determine if music is being stolen? They didn't say. What will Eircom do to verify these accusations? Nothing, apparently; the company said it was "pleased" with the settlement because it wouldn't be required to upgrade its network or risk violating any privacy laws. Apparently, its quite happy to just roll along with whatever the record industry tells it to do.
And what happens when a customer is mistakenly accused of downloading music? It's a safe bet it won't be anything good. With no way to verify the accusations, there's no way to refute them, so unless the deal includes fine print that does require Eircom to somehow double-check the accusations, its customers will be at the mercy of the recording industry.
An article in the Irish Times says that this is the first deal of its kind in the world but that similar schemes are being considered in other countries. Will the record labels be able to bully other ISPs into compliance with the threat of expensive litigation, no matter how baseless it may ultimately be? Sadly, it doesn't seem unlikely.
via: Boing Boing