More than a decade ago, the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) began putting local ISP Eircom under pressure to deal with online piracy.
The legal action, spearheaded by Sony, Universal, and Warner, was brought to an end after Eircom (now Eir) agreed to implement a so-called “three strikes” regime.
The agreement saw the labels tracking alleged infringers (mainly using BitTorrent networks) and sending notices of infringement to Eircom. The ISP agreed to forward these notices to its subscribers, with those receiving a third facing the possibility of a court process and disconnection from the Internet.
Once Eircom had complied, the labels homed in on other ISPs. After a fight UPC (now Virgin) caved into similar demands, agreeing to hand over details of subscribers who received a third “strike” to the record labels.
Last year, legal action against Sky ended swiftly when the ISP agreed to implement a similar regime after a lawyer for the record labels claimed that schemes operated by the other ISPs were proving successful.
Mr Justice Robert Haughton, presiding, agreed that “the big stick does the job”, suggesting that when infringers are faced with losing their anonymity to the record labels, that is enough for them to correct their behavior.
Now, less than six months later, it has been revealed that another Irish ISP has agreed to implement the same regime.
After Sony, Universal and Warner filed an application against Vodafone Ireland to be heard in the Commercial Court, the ISP voluntarily agreed to adopt a “three strikes” mechanism. While this could be viewed as giving in without a fight, momentum was clearly against the telecoms company.
Mr Justice Robert Haughton said he would make a similar order to the one made in the case against Sky, Irish Times reports. Sony, Universal, Warner and Vodafone will pay their own costs.
The system to be deployed by Vodafone is straightforward. The first two warnings sent to allegedly-infringing subscribers will be for informational purposes only and to act as a deterrent. Subscribers going on to receive a third notice will have their personal details handed to the record labels.
Then, at their discretion, the labels will have the option of taking a case to court to have the accounts of repeat infringers terminated.
Thus far, no such case against a subscriber in Ireland has been publicized.