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An interesting, but not altogether surprising development.

Eircom and BT won’t oppose music firms
Tuesday, July 05 2005
by Matthew Clark – ENN

Ireland’s internet service providers will not oppose attempts by the music industry to uncover the identities of individuals accused of illegal file-sharing.

In Dublin on Monday, the High Court was told that Eircom and BT Ireland would not fight proceedings by the four record companies — EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music and Warner Music — that are seeking files from the ISPs. The files in question would allow the music companies to identify people who are thought to have uploaded hundreds, possibly thousands, of songs to internet-based file-sharing services.

John Gordon SC for BT Communications Ireland said that he wanted to make submissions as to how the court should exercise its discretion regarding the form of order in the case, Tuesday’s Irish Times reported, noting that Eircom has taken a similar view on the matter. It is believed that the submissions will relate to how the rights of the music companies should be balanced against those of consumers.

Once the names and other details of accused file-swappers are out in the open, the four companies leading the assault against illegal music uploads will be able to press for further action in the High Court, or possible settlements that may cost the file-sharers thousands of euro. For now, Justice Peter Kelly has listed for hearing on Friday the proceedings by EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music and Warner Music.

The proceedings in Dublin stand in stark contrast to similar legal action in the US in recent years, with ISPs there fighting tooth and nail to resist the music industry, which was seeking information on file-swappers. Eventually, the big ISPs in the US lost the fight, paving the way for thousands of lawsuits against individuals in the US.

Meanwhile, in April of this year, the Irish Recorded Music Association said 17 so-called “serial file-sharers” would be targeted with legal action, with Monday’s proceedings in the High Court moving the record companies a step closer to their goal.

The action in Ireland is part of a global assault led by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which filed 963 new cases against file-sharers in Britain, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Iceland, Finland, Ireland and Japan in April. Worldwide, the total number of cases against those accused of illegal file-sharing has hit 11,552 worldwide since the US-based Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) began its crusade three years ago.