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‘Massive blow’ to music industry as Eircom anti-piracy measures rejected

The broadband firm’s ‘three strikes’ system has reportedly been struck down in a move described as ‘highly significant’ for internet users.

Image: The Labour Party via Flickr

A RULING AGAINST Eircom’s ‘three strikes’ anti-online piracy system has been described as “a massive blow” to the music industry.

IT law expert TJ McIntyre told TheJournal.ie that the reported ruling by the Data Protection Commissioner was highly significant, as the entertainment industry  fights to prevent people downloading music and films for free.

Under the system agreed with several large record companies in 2009, Eircom broadband customers who were found to have illegally downloaded copyrighted material three times would have their internet access cut off.

But Mark Tighe reports in the Sunday Times that the Data Protection Commissioner has ordered Eircom to halt the practice. It’s understood the ruling is based on privacy concerns over the use of web surfers’ IP addresses to identify them.

McIntyre said the decision was especially significant as it follows a recent European Court of Justice ruling, which held that monitoring web users at the behest of copyright holders was an infringement on their right to privacy.

“Now both the courts and the offical DPC are begining to realise the fundamental right of people to access the internet, and not to be monitored while they do so,” he said.

However McIntyre, who also chairs advocacy group Digital Rights Ireland, rejected concerns that the ruling effectively offered carte blanche for pirates. He said those who upload copyright material can still be pursued.

“The music industry can still do what it has always done, which is look for people who are uploading music and take action against them, rather than looking for ISPs to do their work for them,” he said.

He added the music industry may now attempt to challenge the ruling in court, or look for legislative change to protect its copyrights.

More: Minister Hanafin’s office denies change to internet providers’ legislation – for now>

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