Downloaders face disconnection following Eircom settlement


Eircom has agreed to implement several measures aimed at stopping the use of its internet services for illegal free downloading of music as part of an “amicable” settlement of High Court proceedings brought against it by four major record companies.

As part of the settlement, the record companies will supply Eircom with the IP addresses of all persons who they detect illegally uploading or downloading copyright works while Eircom has agreed measures which include the ultimate disconnection of infringing subscribers who ignore warnings to cease such infringement.

Welcoming the settlement this evening, Willie Kavanagh, chairman of EMI REcords and of the Irish Recorded Music  Association (IRMA), said he was happy with the outcome and expected other internet service providers to follow Eircom’s example. Eircom also expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

The settlement was announced to Mr Justice Peter Charleton this evening after lengthy talks between the sides and on the eighth day of the legal action, which was listed to run for four weeks.

Both parties have agreed to work closely together and on a joint approach aimed at ending “the absue of the internet by  P2P (peer to peer) copyright infringers”, they said in a statement afterwards.

The approach involved the companies - EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner - providing Eircom with the IP addresses of  all persons whom they detected to be illegally uploading or downloading copyright works on a peer to peer basis.

Eircom has agreed to implement from now on a graudated process under which it will: (1) inform its broadband
subscriber that the subscribers IP address has been detected infringing copyright; (2) warn the subscriber they will be  disconnected unless infringement ceases and (3) disconnect the subscriber in default of compliance with the warning.

The record compnaies have also agreed they will take all necessary steps to put similar agreements in place with all other internet service providers in Ireland.

In their action, the four companies had sought court orders compelling Eircom to actively seek to prevent the use of its  networks for the illegal free downloading of music, claiming music piracy is costing record companies here up to €14 million a year.

They alleged Eircom’s attitude was that piracy was not its problem and also complained Eircom was advertising its  broadband packages on a website, Pirate Bay, being prosecuted in Sweden over alleged large scale illegal music piracy.

Eircom was also offering family packages on a broadband promotional site which would allow for the downloading of some  5,000 songs a month, it was claimed.

The case was the first here aimed at internet service providers, rather than indivdual illegal downloaders, and reflects the  concern of the music industry about the scale and cost of illegal downloading. The court previously heard some 20 billion music files were illegally downloaded worldwide in 2006 alone.

The proceedings were brought by EMI Records (Ireland) Ltd, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Ireland) Ltd, Universal  Music (Ireland) Ltd and Warner Music (Ireland) Ltd. Eircom had denied the claims and argued the record companies had  no cause of action against it.

The case had centred on the construction of various EU Directives and Irish regulations  relating to intellectual property rights and also on the property right provisions of the Constitution.