Illegal file sharing penalties rejected


ATTEMPTS BY the music industry to have tougher sanctions imposed on people who share files online have been dealt a blow with the European Parliament adopting a new report rejecting “excessive” punishments.

The report on security and fundamental freedom on the internet said the penalties imposed should be “proportionate to the infringements committed” and rejected “systematic monitoring and surveillance” of all users’ online activities. It also warned against “certain excessive access restrictions placed by intellectual property holders themselves”.

The move was overwhelmingly supported by parliament, with 481 votes in favour and only 25 against. The position is at odds with recent developments in the industry in Ireland. In January, Eircom settled a High Court action with record labels where the company agreed to a “three strikes” rule for illegal file-sharers.

Under the agreement, the record companies would give Eircom the IP addresses of those they detect illegally sharing copyright works online. These users would then be issued with warnings, and eventually disconnected from Eircom’s broadband network if they received three warnings.

Following the settlement of the action with Eircom, the Irish Recorded Music Association began contacting other Irish ISPs in an attempt to get them to sign up to a similar agreement.

France has also been considering the introduction of such penalties for those who infringe copyright.

Chairman of Digital Rights Ireland TJ McIntyre said the parliament’s decision was a positive sign.

“The European Parliament is saying it is not willing to go along with it. It’s very important because increasingly internet law is being made at a European level.”