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Irish judge says Eircom’s three-strikes operation can continue

By | Published on Thursday 28 June 2012


The major labels have secured a court order in Ireland quashing a noticed issued by the country’s Data Protection Commissioner last year which halted Eircom’s three-strikes operation to combat illegal file-sharing.

As much previously reported, Ireland’s biggest ISP, Eircom, voluntarily introduced a so called graduated response system to combat illegal file-sharing as part of a legal settlement with the country’s major record companies. Under that agreement, it started sending warning letters to suspected file-sharers, ultimately with the threat of sanctions if file-sharing continued. But Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner started raising concerns about the legalities of the operation, and – after evidence surfaced last year that some warning letters had been sent to the wrong people – ordered it be halted on data protection law grounds.

But both the majors and Eircom raised formal objections to that DPC ruling, and were given permission in late February to take the matter to judicial review. According to the Irish Times, the record industry claimed that the DPC’s order was “an unlawful and irrational attempt to reopen data protection issues already determined by the courts in their favour”. The Commissioner, for his part, denied that was so.

But this week Judge Peter Charleton basically sided with the record companies, ruling that the DPC failed to provide sufficient justification for his order to Eircom (it was a matter of privacy rights, the DPC said, but that argument was no sufficiently specific, the judge countered). Not only that, but the reasons given – as far as they could be ascertained – “involved a misconstruction of the relevant law”.

All of which means that Eircom can resume sending out warning letters to suspected file-sharers. The Irish Recorded Music Association welcomed the ruling and said it planned to continue with its efforts to get a three-strikes system in place both via its agreement with Eircom and beyond.

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