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Large Irish ISP To Enact "Three Strikes" Rule For Copyright Violation 288

Posted by timothy
from the very-very-naughty dept.
Squeeonline writes "One of the biggest broadband providers in Ireland will make the country the first in the world (according to the broadsheet newspaper the Irish Times) to introduce the 'three strikes' rule. 'Eircom will from today begin a process that will lead to cutting off the broadband service of customers found to be repeatedly sharing music online illegally. Ireland is the first country in the world where a system of graduated response is being put in place. Under the pilot scheme, Eircom customers who illegally share copyrighted music will get three warnings before having their broadband service cut off for a year.' ... The mechanism by which it operates was challenged in the courts by the Data Protection Commissioner. Apparently, IP addresses do not constitute 'personal information.' Personally, I use filesharing all the time, but I use it to download large open source Linux ISOs. How will Eircom legally differentiate between that content, and the content that some ragamuffin may be downloading illegally, without infringing privacy laws?"
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Large Irish ISP To Enact "Three Strikes" Rule For Copyright Violation

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  • by KahabutDieDrake (1515139) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:04PM (#32319140)
    In Ireland. So a bit of censorship and or corporate protectionism (depending on how far you lean) isn't a big surprise. I am a bit shocked that anyone is upset by this. I'm as big a sharer as the next guy (god damn it people SEED!!!) but if that 'sharing' is in violation of local law, the idea isn't to do it surreptitious, it's to change the local laws. As long as our activity is technically illegal, it's going to be policed. The more money involved the better the policing is going to be. There is a LOT of money in music.

    Ireland will be a test bed, and if it goes even remotely well, this program will expand to most of the EU and north america. I'm not sure how enthusiastic the ISPs will be about cutting off customers, however, I am sure that they will ham it up to get the highest possible "operational costs" from the RIAA and their ilk, to cover expenses, of course.

    I am also not sure why anyone would think their unencrypted data isn't already being inspected. That's just naive. There doesn't need to be a good reason, there just needs to be a WAY, and we all know there is. So it's just a little bit foolish to think that your OPEN traffic isn't already being scanned at the very least by a machine, and probably occasionally by a human if the machine flags enough activity as "bad". Is it against the law for the ISP to scan the traffic? Depends where you live, and how you define scan. In the US, the ISP can pretty much snoop as they please under the guise of Network Operations monitoring. They would be sued if they released private info, or if they used it in public against the customer, but turning it over to law enforcement (or a corporation pretending to be a law enforcement agency), isn't likely to get them in all that much hot water, legally speaking. They have already been doing it for years, and I can't imagine why they would stop. It's not like there is an ISP you can use that doesn't traverse ATT/Comcast, and or would vow to protect your plain text communications in the first place.
  • Re:Differentiation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Arker (91948) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:08PM (#32319170) Homepage

    Based on what we've seen so far from the Muzak Maffia, they'll most likely just scan for filenames.

    I foresee hundreds of well-seeded linux ISOs with filenames remarkably similar to whatever is top of the charts on the week of release...

  • by giorgist (1208992) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:15PM (#32319214)
    if every song comes out on youtube
    and I can download it as an MP3
    Am I pirating music if I can simply get it that way ?
  • Good luck with that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rubies (962985) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:31PM (#32319296)

    Who is paying the bills at the ISP? The copyright holders or the guys using the bandwidth? And will the copyright holders offer to make up the shortfall after the ISP ditches all it's best customers?

  • lol (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @10:34PM (#32319310)
    I actually work copyright complaints for an ISP and have an intimate understanding of how this all works. If someone REALLY wanted to highlight the flaws in this process the simple solution would be to get IP addresses of influential members of the government and/or the ISPs and start sending bogus emails to the copyright/abuse/legal mailboxes of the ISP. They'd start cutting off service automatically to all the right people. The uproar would be both hilarious and effective. Trust me, it would work very quickly as the ISP has absolutely no way of verifying the emails. Get the internet cut off to most government buildings and they might start to rethink this policy.
  • Re:Not quite (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @11:00PM (#32319434)

    No, it's three strikes and then you can go to court and try to prove you're not guilty.

  • Re:BRILLIANT! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @11:00PM (#32319436)
    No really, the majority of Eircom is owned by Babcock & Brown, which is an Aussie company
  • by Grumbleduke (789126) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @11:24PM (#32319604) Journal

    Also, Ireland even has a shiny, new blasphemy law [wikipedia.org]. But anyway;

    There isn't actually a lot of money in music. People think there is, (and the large record labels would like to believe it) but there isn't. In 2009, according to the BPI's figures [bpi.co.uk], the entire UK recorded music industry revenue was less than GBP1bn. That's for all their recorded music (CD sales, music videos, legal downloads, ad- and subscription-based services, the whole lot) for an entire year. A top film will make nearly that much [wikipedia.org]. EMI (the UK's one, failing contribution to the "big four" - and the smallest one) made more than that in 2009 (actually, it even announced pre-tax losses of more than that; but that is more due to its screwed up investments and legal battles with its own musicians, or former musicians).

    While $1bn may sound like a lot to you or me, on a corporate level, it is hardly anything - there really isn't that much money in actually selling recorded music to normal people. Normal people don't have that much money.

    Moving on; yes, this will be an interesting case and will likely be hailed as a success and great progress tomorrow by the IFPI and all their little friends; in fact, it will probably be used to support their efforts in forcing through something similar under the UK's Digital Economy Act [wikipedia.org]. These measures will not work for two reasons. Firstly, they won't stop file-sharing without causing a huge fuss (and likely leading to an even greater backlash against the lobbyists). There will always be loop-holes, there will always be unlicensed file-sharing while it still more convenient. Secondly, even if people stop sharing, they won't naturally move to paying for stuff (and they certainly won't be downloading from iTunes or using Spotify if their Internet has been cut off for a year).

    The only people who will win here are the lobbyists (who can get nice big bonuses for getting their laws passed) and the lawyers who will be spending the next 10-15 years trying to untangle the mess it creates in the local, national and European courts. Stopping piracy through legislation and litigation isn't going to work, nor has it ever worked.

    Incidentally, I am doing something to stop things like this; I am a member of my local Pirate Party [pirateparty.org.uk] and will be meeting with Ofcom [ofcom.org.uk] (the UK's communication regulator who has been tasked with drafting - or just using the BPI's draft of - our n-strikes law) to explain to them why they will be unable to carry out the requirements made of them.

    What are you doing to stop this sort of thing?

  • Re:BRILLIANT! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bfree (113420) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:03AM (#32319834)
    Not any more, it is currently owned by Singapore Telecom. It's true though that they were still owned by B&B when this started.
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:20AM (#32319906) Homepage
    One question: how many times has each of them been sued by somebody who was falsely accused by a self-proclaimed "media watchdog" company?
  • by karl.auerbach (157250) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:22AM (#32319912) Homepage

    Suppose a corporation - let's call it "Google" - makes more than 3 improper copies. Would it lose its access to the internet in Ireland?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:42AM (#32320000)

    I work for a tech support firm in the US, supporting a number of different ISPs, and at least a handful of them actively enforce a "three strikes" rule, once they are notified by media watchdog companies that a certain IP address that's assigned to them is guilty of copyright infringement.

    It goes first strike - cut off service till you contact the main office and sign a document to indicate that you've removed the copyrighted material from your pc. Second strike - same deal, except you lose your service for 3-7 days. Third strike, they cancel your service permanently.

    I'm kinda surprised this story is making /.

    I'm going to have to call bullshit.

    I work for a tech support firm in the US also, and outside of University's have no clue what your talking about.
    I manage or have subscribed to connections for Quest, Verizon, AT&T, Cogent, Level-3, Comcast, Grande, TW-telecom, Time Warner Cable and honestly have never seen anyone but Grande ever do anything but forward a MPAA letter on.

    Please tell what ISP is doing this?

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:14AM (#32320184) Journal

    This will probably get broken in implementation so bad that public outcry will cause the legislature to regulate the practice.

    I had Verizon turn my service off once. I called complaining that it wasn't working and they sent me to a website describing complaints of illegally sharing movies. (yea, no internet access and they send me to a web site). I checked it on my laptop at another location then I pointed out that all three complaints were within 5 seconds of each other, the IP address listed was not the IP they assigned to me, and after about 20 minutes on hold, they turned the service back on. I didn't even get a "my bad, our mistake" or anything from them.

    About two days later, I started receiving phone calls saying that my service was scheduled to be shut off because of copyright infringement. This time I checked the website and another 3 complaints were logged within 10 seconds of each other. They got the IP right this time though. The copyright violation was Mandriva spring ed. Supposedly there is some movie or something out there that looks similar enough to a linux distribution that they thought it was it. I have yet to find it though.

    After another 20 minutes of arguing with them, they told me to ignore it. I mentioned something about suing them for harassment. 6 months later my service stopped working again, I stopped paying them.

    I don't think it will be much different in Ireland. Especially if third parties are involved and they do the same shit, file 3 complaints within seconds of each other in order to get to the max and shut the service off.

  • Re:Differentiation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Monday May 24, 2010 @01:49AM (#32320348) Journal

    I'm not a fan of either "three strikes" laws that impose penalties without a proper court hearing or going after people based on an IP address alone, but as the recent round of proposals have gone, this one seems to be about as reasonable as you're going to get in who it claims to be targetting.

    Consider this hypothetical: Sony starts up an ISP in Ireland. They decide to have a "three strikes" rule, where anyone caught sharing Sony music gets banned. Now, along comes Columbia Records. They notice that due to Sony's blatant and wide-spread advertising "We'll ban you if you share Sony music", Sony's ISP is now a large haven for sharing Columbia Records music but no Sony music. Hmm.. That sure looks like a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement (no different, really, than what Napster was slammed under).

    The fact that the ISP isn't owned by one or a few music labels doesn't really change the point. They've taken it upon themselves not to ban copyright infringers of music (or even copyright infringers in general) but to selectively pick winners and losers in the "you can get free music and avoid paying a label their [fair or not] share of copyright money*. And unlikely the whole debate over scanning networks for obscene material, the parties in question (a) have lots of money to sue, (b) have lots of precedent for redress in civil court, and (c) are defending material where there isn't some major moral issue which might taint the subject.

    In short, good fucking luck with that Eircom. I hope you get sued into the ground by a major label and then--after the Irish RIAA gets their artists named added to the search filter--by indie labels and then--after even most the indie labels with deep enough pockets sue--finally by a few really rich independent musicians. Then we can move onto all the other non-music infringement that they'll be havens for. Good luck filtering the whole internet systematically for all copyright infringement.

    *Yea, clearly, it's debatable on whether they deserve a share or not morally, but legally they're in a good position for the courts.

  • Re:Not quite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shadow_139 (707786) on Monday May 24, 2010 @02:05AM (#32320390)
    The are also the ONLY company that you have get a physical PSTN line if you want ADSL from ANYBODY. This is because they own the last-mile of copper to everyone's house. This was a state run company under a few years ago.
  • Re:Not quite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday May 24, 2010 @04:24AM (#32320974) Homepage Journal

    Didn't the EU recently rule that internet access was a human right? If so Eircom are looking to get very heavy fines if they cut anybody off.

  • Re:Not quite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DiarmuidBourke (910868) on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:10AM (#32321322)

    It's Ireland, so I don't know how much competition there is in that country, ...

    Eircom is a monopoly here, in that it has control over the exchanges (it's control over exchanges is being taken away, but its still relied upon for networking engineering works). I'm currently waiting on Eircom to hand over control of my phone line to another broadband provider, so that I can have decent access to the interent. However, even with my new operator, I'm still paying Eircom line rental charges of €25.36 per month. This represents the biggest failure of our communications regulator in that they failed to properly remove control of the network from Eircom. What the regulator should have done is taken a look at our Electricity market, the incumbent ESB has been split into ESB Networks and ESB Customer Care. This allows us to choose any Electricity provider while retaining a neutral network operator. Eircom should have been split up the same way. Instead we're left with a pseudo deregulated telecoms market and network infrastructure that has no incentive to be upgraded.

  • by dejanc (1528235) on Monday May 24, 2010 @06:46AM (#32321482)

    I used to work at an American university where we received a huge amount of notices from MPAA, Sony & friends. This was some 7 years ago and affected students living in dorms and using the university ISP.

    We implemented the three strikes rule, but we ourselves were well aware of the flaws:

    • Notices were NEVER checked for authenticity. They arrived by email and we had no check on the headers. We processed them so routinely that even if they came from completely bogus addresses - we'd never know.
    • We trusted the notices. When we received a list of material infringed upon by an IP - we took it for granted that the list was correct.
    • People who got cought red handed (with infringing material on their hard disks) didn't need to be sharpest to say that their computers got compromised by a malicious virus. Nowadays, pretty much everybody has a wireless router - they just need to claim it was unsecured and somebody stole their bandwidth.

    We should really start rethinking how we think about copyright. At least in the country I'm in now, you cannot commit a crime without an intent. What stops everyone from claiming ignorance on how computers work and what happens when you run a P2P program? On the other hand, what stops corporations from claiming infringement on an IP? What sort of evidence can you provide that somebody transmitted pieces of your work online and how can you prove that you didn't alter the evidence to your cause?

  • Re:Not quite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohhnyTHM (799469) on Monday May 24, 2010 @08:09AM (#32321814)

    Water, gas and electricity are already 'human rights', but utility companies have been able to cut off non-payers and abusers without issue.

    I can't comment on gas or electricity, but in the UK you absolutley cannot turn off someones water supply. It is classed as a basic human need for survival. Unfortunately, some people try to use this as a way to get out of paying their water bill.

  • by currently_awake (1248758) on Monday May 24, 2010 @12:05PM (#32324418)
    No. There are two sets of rules: those for -people- and those for companies. Clearly you are ignorant of the difference, but these three strikes laws only apply to people. For instance, if your boat dumps half a tank of diesel fuel into the ocean you get charged, if Exon dumps a tanker full, it's just business.

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