Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Major labels challenge mere conduit in Ireland

The four major record companies have launched a lawsuit against Eircom, the largest ISP in Ireland, alleging that it is “making available” copyrighted music tracks through its network. The lawsuit aims to force Eircom to introduce network level blocking of peer-to-peer filesharing.

According to reports on The Irish Times, Eircoms lawyers have said that the company has no knowledge of specific instances of illegal activity infringing on the rights of the record company, and reasserted Eircom’s protection from being forced to monitor its network under the terms of the Electronic Commerce Directive.

Eircom has refused to institute network level content controls, citing the same Directive. As a “mere conduit”, Eircom cannot be held liable for content that it merely carries over its network. If continued to judgment, this case may set an important precedent: whereas the recent Belgian case of Sabam v Scarlet was widely criticised as being wrongly decided at first instance because it was brought against a smaller ISP with inadequate legal defense resources, Eircom is a fully-funded former monopoly national telecoms operator.

Perhaps the record companies believe they can get a faster - or preferable - decision from the Irish High Court than by waiting for an Appeal Court view of the Belgian case, which might go against them now Scarlet is now supported by Belgacom’s financial muscle.

Further background is available on Lex Ferenda. (Takken from Linx website)

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