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Networking Piracy The Courts

Irish ISP Wins Major Legal Victory Against Record Companies 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-say-no dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The High Court in Dublin ruled today that there was no precedent in Irish law to force ISPs to identify and disconnect people accused of illegally downloading copyrighted files. The court case was spurred by objections to the recording industry's three-strikes system from Irish internet provider UPC. Earlier this year, Eircom, one of Ireland's other large ISPs, gave in and implemented the system, as we discussed previously. This resulted in many of the more 'technical' users leaving that ISP in droves. Nice to see an ISP willing to take a stand."
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Irish ISP Wins Major Legal Victory Against Record Companies

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  • Economics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:54PM (#33861164)
    And people here say the economy doesn't fix itself when corporations do things consumers don't like.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd like to see the geographical breakdown between ISP's in Ireland. If a monopoly doesn't exist for any particular region, then yes. Your claim is substantiated.

      Otherwise, this just shows its consumer-base, and the winning ISP for that matter, have more backbone than loads of other bandwidth consumers around the world who are in the same predicament.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'd like to see the geographical breakdown between ISP's in Ireland. If a monopoly doesn't exist for any particular region, then yes. Your claim is substantiated.

        Eircom are a former state owned incumbent, they don't quite have a total monopoly but are many people's "default choice" of provider. Because the Irish market is quite small there are relatively few resellers and outside of major urban areas there are few other choices apart from mobile based operators.

        The original article mentioned "This resulted in many of the more 'technical' users leaving that ISP in droves". They didn't exactly attract technical users before. Until quite recently their default ADSL pac

        • by thyrial (1429239)
          Eircom did have a monopoly on residential broadband in most of the county for years though.They sat on their asses and are part of the reason that 1-7mb lines here are still the norm. Eircom are losing customers hand over fist here as the other ISPs offer decent packages , as they cant really compete on price. They still , to the best of my knowledge they "own" most of the fixed line infrastructure and get money back on any other providers ADSL packages. UPC(the guys in this article)( are a cable outfit th
      • I'm not 100% sure about this but in the UK at least I'm fairly sure most, if not all, ISPs are available everywhere in the country* with the exception of virgin media cable internet (since you need to be in a cabled area, and you can still get virgin broadband via phone-line (ADSL/ADSL2+)). I'm no broadband expert but my understanding is that all equipment is owned by BT and then rented by the smaller ISPs (with the exception of some of the other big ISPs who use their own tech in major telephone exchanges)

    • Re:Economics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RingDev (879105) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:18PM (#33861440) Homepage Journal

      Only if consumers have choice. In the US, were most of the country only has 1 or 2 choices for broad band services, there is no meaningful choice.

      -Rick

      • Re:Economics (Score:5, Informative)

        by RapmasterT (787426) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:23PM (#33861500)

        Only if consumers have choice. In the US, were most of the country only has 1 or 2 choices for broad band services, there is no meaningful choice.

        -Rick

        Or even just 1 choice. Personally, I can get my broadband (god I hate how misused that term is) access from Comcast, or I can get a dial-up modem, that's my choices. So I'm functionally under a monopoly, if Comcast does something I don't like, like eliminating USENET service without lowering my bill, then I'm free to suck it up or do without internet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by MBGMorden (803437)

        Exactly. In smaller countries like this, it is feasible for multiple companies to build out infrastructure.

        In the US however, we're much more spread out. 40 out of our 50 states are larger than entire country of Ireland. It's just much harder for multiple companies to cover that much area, particularly with so much of the mid-west being sparsely populated farmland.

        In almost everything but large cities you have at most 2 choices for broadband. Some don't even have that. I myself have only the DSL offere

        • Re:Economics (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:42PM (#33861690)

          Same old rubbish US wahwahwah excuse. No one is talking about US broadband covering every single inch of the land. Any decent size city can have dozens of ISPs, but they don't. We still have the silly system of local authorities giving companies local monopolies rather than having them compete. We have companies blocking municipalities from installing their own infrastructure, and winning, thanks to legal delaying tactics. Only when we stop this bullshit will we get competition and better service, with customers having the ability to choose from various suppliers instead of 1 DSL, 1 cable, and if they're lucky, FiOS.

          • So let's say that I'm a cable company and I'm interested in bringing in new service to your town (or city). Your constituents have been crying for cable and better Internet access, so you say that you're interested.

            "This will be very expensive work.", I say, "We'd need some guarantees of exclusivity."
            "No", you say, "You can put in the cable, but you'll have to carry other traffic. You'll have to compete on price for the services."
            "But we're picking up the cost of infrastructure - what's in it for us?" I sa

            • Re:Economics (Score:5, Informative)

              by Rising Ape (1620461) on Monday October 11, 2010 @05:12PM (#33863222)

              Here in the UK, BT are deploying VDSL2-based FTTC despite having to open their networks to others, with the prices they charge to others being regulated. So it can be done.

            • by tsm_sf (545316)
              "But we're picking up the cost of infrastructure - what's in it for us?" I say.

              You get to build out on private property without needing to pay market value for the land, OR negotiate with every person whose land you cross.

              It's a bit of a red herring, though. There's no good reason for infrastructure to be privately held. "If you build it, they will come" should be the motto of every municipality.
            • There are two options:
              • 1. You lay your cables. Costs a bunch.
              • 2. You charge a lot for the service to have return on your investment.
              • 3. The other guy comes and lays his own cables. Costs him a bunch
              • 4. You lower your price before he has his cables in place
              • 5. He can't charge as much as you did, because then he wouldn't have return on his investment.
              • 6. You are cheaper, so people will stay with you
              • 7. No (...) required
              • 8. Profit

              Or another option:

              • 1. Lay the cables
              • 2.Charge a lot for a crappy service
              • 3. Some othe
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In the US however, we're much more spread out. 40 out of our 50 states are larger than entire country of Ireland. It's just much harder for multiple companies to cover that much area, particularly with so much of the mid-west being sparsely populated farmland.

          No it's not.

          You have one non-profit company / co-op run the infrastructure, and the competition occurs at the service level. The entity that runs Layer 1 doesn't care about bandwidth caps, IP addresses, or anything else. Neither do they care about you're using it for plain IP, or home phone service, or video on demand.

          The people you give you an IP address then have to compete on giving you the best connection to the Internet (and/or VoIP, and/or video), and don't care about building out and maintaining fibr

        • Re:Economics (Score:5, Informative)

          by scot4875 (542869) on Monday October 11, 2010 @03:14PM (#33862022) Homepage

          In the US however, we're much more spread out.

          Please quit spreading this misinformation. We aren't more spread out than several countries that completely kick our asses in both rural and metro internet access.

          And being spread out *still* doesn't provide any justification why there would be effective monopolies with poor service in most major metro areas.

          U.S. citizens are reamed for Internet access. Stop playing the Stockholm syndrome victim and acting as an industry apologist.

          --Jeremy

          • So if a Stockholm syndrome victim knew he/she was suffering from Stockholm syndrome what would the conversation with their captor asctually look like? And if n one was there did they make a sound?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099)

          So of course, in New York City there's hundreds of broadband providers to choose from due to the very high population density. OH, WAIT!

        • In .au Telstra the former public carrier is forced to allow ISP acces to its copper lines for ADSL.

          I have literally a dozen or more choices of provider.

        • As a poster "flamebaited" earlier in this thread, Australia, one of the least densely populated places on the planet*, has a varied choice of ISP. I have a fixed line ADSL2+ in Sydney and a mobile 3G service at my inland property which is good enough to stream ABC video. They have achieved this by forcing the previous monopoly (Telstra) to allow other ISPs to place DSLAMs in their exchanges, or simply on-sell Telstra services after getting them at the wholesale rate. *Having said that, it is also one of t
        • While I right now live in Ireland, I used to live in Norway, which has about one third the population density of the US.

          And broadband competition.

          It's very simple: You regulate in competition. The natural situation is for the companies in this sector to turn into monopolies due to infrastructure investments partially born by taxpayer or through enforced rights; you must regulate away the monopoly to get a functioning market, e.g. by requiring competitor access to infrastructure at regulated prices.

          Eivind.

      • Re:Economics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:31PM (#33861580) Homepage

        Satellite is not really broadband. Anyone who has had to live with it for more than a day will agree to this.

        Most of the united states has 0 to 1 choices for broadband, large swaths of this country has ZERO broadband accessibility. By geographical square meters, most of the USA has no connectivity other than Dial up or Satellite.

        Based on population, it's still dismal. I know people in NYC that cant get broadband. CableTV Broadband wont work, and DSL wont work as the building has wires from 1907, or were half assed and can not carry what is needed. They can watch low channel cable TV, but the RG59 30% shield garbage installed by the lowest bidder in the late 80's just wont cut it. And the phone wires are as bad or worse.

        That's the problem in the United states... Companies whine about letting competition use "their" wires, while ignoring the fact that they took Public money to build those wires. Corporations here like to believe that any public funds for telecommunications are a free gift to their shareholders.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Zero choice huh? I live in the suburbs in the Northeast, I have MANY choices of broadband internet... Neighbor 1, neighbor 2, neighbor 3 and so on and so forth.

        • Corporations here like to believe that any public funds for telecommunications are a free gift to their shareholders.

          I've always wonder why the government just gives the money away instead of exchanging it for stock. Its all the burden of an investment with none of the benefits.

          Is any other type infrastructure ever considered a risky investment that needs to be publicly subsidized? Is it immoral to harass/vandalize a telco that has been jerking us around for years with poor customer service and spotty at best connectivity? How can we affect change if we can't even vote with our dollars?

    • by robotito (460199)

      Now they only need to fix the service, which is so shite.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by erroneus (253617)

      It's all a matter of where the incentive lies. In this case, the ISP probably doesn't get any money from the recording industry at all so they have no incentive to support their interests.

      My first reaction was "well, technical users probably use their support services a LOT less often and so cost them less in terms of support and so the loss of their tech savvy customers is a big loss in terms of support costs per customer." That should factor into additional incentives to care about their tech savvy user

    • The problem with your assumption is that Eirecom is going to lose money off of this. Now, I'm not sure how it works in Ireland, but if this exact scenario went down in the USA, Eirecom would be congradulating themselves as they found a way to shluff off all the "band-width hogs". You know, those 'technical users' that actually use the connection they purchase. ISPs here make bank on mom and pop who check their email.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        Well that's because there is no competition around the Mom & Pop users, it's more "do you want broadband or don't you?" and so the price is far higher than the service delivered.

        I just checked and in my town there's at least 22 broadband providers. The four largest (2 dsl, 2 cable) are all within 20% of each other, roughly the same speed (1-2Mbit down, 0.5-1 Mbit up) and is probably a fair price given the cost of delivering service at all like modem including delivery/returns, line including maintenance

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ... the economy doesn't fix itself when corporations do things consumers don't like.

      Yeah. That's why there's ACTA.

    • And people here say the economy doesn't fix itself when corporations do things consumers don't like.

      This is a definite case of correlation not equalling causation. You assume that they sued the record companies because some users left, I'd be a great deal on the real reason being that filtering and logging software as well having a human go through the logs to find the answers to the deluge of piracy complaints was costing them way too much. ISP's operate on a shoestring profit, not a lot of fat in it so

    • by yukk (638002)
      Well, a nice economic fightback tactic would be for the ISPs to say that after 1 "strike" (being caused by the user downloading music) the ISP then demands that since it's music causing the problem, the music companies must now strike that person off their own customer lists.
      Therefore the person is no longer allowed into any music stores or to buy music from those companies by any means.
      Once the labels can show that they are doing their part of the work, they may go ahead and serve more notices for downlo
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      It's scary when you go for Funny and end up with Insightful
  • Now why is it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moryath (553296) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:56PM (#33861184)

    that the only sane people seem to be in other countries? In the US, the normal people get trodden on all over the place, the idea of a "choice" of ISP is a joke, and despite the prohibition on ex post facto laws, the Supreme Court ruled that a bought-off Congress could keep extending "copyright term" ad infinitum - even setting it to a "million bajillion" years if they felt like it.

     

    • that the only sane people seem to be in other countries? In the US, the normal people get trodden on all over the place, the idea of a "choice" of ISP is a joke, and despite the prohibition on ex post facto laws, the Supreme Court ruled that a bought-off Congress could keep extending "copyright term" ad infinitum - even setting it to a "million bajillion" years if they felt like it.

      Wow... how the world has changed in only 60 years or so. You see, the irony here is, The United States used to be the enemy of nazis... the US was the nazi's worst nightmare, and nazis often traversed through neutral Ireland on their way to new identities. And now it seems the roles have reversed. (If my quip offends anyone, let me just say, to calm your pure hearts, that the independent ('indy') record companies are not nazis; they're more like the French Resistance).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        That's only true if you only look back 60 years. If you go back 100+ years, you'll find there was an active marxist movement and an active fascist movement. The original Pledge of Allegiance was actually written written by the vice president of the Society of Christian Socialists a fascist group presenting itself as an alternative to the marxist groups. The original salute to be given during the pledge was the same as the German Nazi military salute. It was only after WW2 that the US was an enemy of Naz

    • by gknoy (899301)

      despite the prohibition on ex post facto laws, the Supreme Court ruled that a bought-off Congress could keep extending "copyright term" ad infinitum

      A lawyer can correct me, but I believe you misunderstand "ex post facto" laws.

      The prohibition is on laws which make illegal things which used to be legal, and then punish people for things they did in the past. (e.g., if they made abortion illegal, and then fined/imprisoned people that had gotten abortions last year.) The prohibition is NOT on making laws which

  • economics? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Whats special about record companies anyhow............shouldn't they be poor now? I haven't seen records anywhere in years.

  • It was nice to see the users take a stand and for the ISP to notice.

  • As a UPC customer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gopher971 (219910) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:18PM (#33861436) Journal

    I'm delighted with the stand they are taking. I was previously with Eircom and was one of the thousands who left when they caved into IMRO. While I woldn't case myself as purer than pure, I do frequently download iso's for various Linux distributions.

    As an aside, I've found UPC to be a much superior ISP, with great customer service, not like the bad old days of NTL.

    • by dewie (685736)

      Yep, I'm with UPC too, and as long as they keep fighting this they have my guaranteed continued custom, as well as my positive word-of-mouth to anyone who asks me for ISP recommendations.

  • UPC... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mariushm (1022195) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:19PM (#33861452)

    Just a note ... UPC is not an Irish ISP in particular ... they're also in other countries, like Romania where I am. In other countries it's called Chello but they're slowly re-branding in some: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chello [wikipedia.org]

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Monday October 11, 2010 @02:40PM (#33861676) Homepage

    If ACTA were law I suspect the court's decision would go the other way. Given the inaccuracy of DMCA accusations so far, any kind of three-strikes law that doesn't require three convictions would be disastrous. Heck, even a "three convictions" rule would be a problem given how important the Internet has become to our daily lives. Any law calling for a user's disconnection (except in cases of parole/probation) would doubtless constitute a curtailment of that person's freedom of speech and association (whether or not the law ends up recognizing it as such).

    I don't think it's too much to ask for copyright holders to prove their case before penalizing users, and I don't think it's fair for such penalties to include disconnection once the term of conviction is up for those who are guilty.

  • May you live long and prosper
  • by hdon (1104251) on Monday October 11, 2010 @03:03PM (#33861912)

    I saw this story covered at BoingBoing [boingboing.net] earlier and I have to say -- has anyone actually read this article?

    This is not a major victory. This is a temporary set-back for the record labels who wish for overreaching legal powers to stop the unstoppable.

    Here are some very meaningful excerpts from the same story covered by the Irish Times [irishtimes.com]:

    "...the judge said laws were not in place in Ireland to enforce disconnections over illegal downloads... this gap in legislation meant Ireland was not complying with European law."

    "The judge made it very clear that an injunction would be morally justified but that the Irish legislature had failed in its obligation to confer on the courts the right to grant such injunctions, unlike other EU states."

    "Irish Recorded Music Association director-general Dick Doyle said his office would pressure the Government to reform the law in favour of record labels."

    RTFA

    • You are correct, the spokesman on the radio (here in Ireland) was blabbing on about them putting pressure on the government now via lobbying.
      government who in all honesty have better things to be worrying about such as getting the country of out the deepening depression we are still in (and one that they helped get us into!)

    • I saw this story covered at BoingBoing [boingboing.net] earlier and I have to say -- has anyone actually read this article?

      Welcome, friend. You must be new around here. Let me tell you how things work here.

      You see, there's no real requirement for submitters to read or understand the articles they link to. That makes it very common for us to get submissions where the submitter says something like "The article says X. The article says X!" when the fact the article says "not X". I wish it was better around here, but it's not.

  • If droves of customers leave the ISP after implementing such a system, should the ISP be able to sue for loss of revenue?
    I guess it would be difficult to quantify, maybe not as difficult to quantify as the loss of revenue due to copyright infringement.

    • All they need to do is just make up a number, some random amount of billions in lost revenue. It's what the recording industry does, and nobody ever seems to call bullshit on those numbers.
  • Those "more technical" users' bittorent feeds were using up all the bandwidth anyway, and slowing down my porn downloads!
  • I am not a lawyer, but just because there is no precedent in law, doesn't mean a new law can't be binding, does it? If there was precedent that it was not allowed, that would be a strong argument, but a law requiring a remedy for a crime which didn't exist until recently is bound to have no precedent.

    Perhaps some lawyer could explain this leap of logic. There's no precedent for fining or jailing people for sending spam, posting kiddie porn, or cyberbullying, either. Does that mean there can't be? Is this a

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