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Record industry sues Ireland

By | Published on Friday 13 January 2012

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Following those previously reported comments made by the boss of EMI Ireland criticising his country’s government over their inaction on the file-sharing issue, it has emerged that all four majors have put their name to a lawsuit that aims to force Irish ministers to introduce new anti-piracy rules.

As previously reported, the Irish record industry has been lobbying hard for new measures to help them crack down on illegal file-sharing similar to those being introduced in the UK, France and Spain, particularly as efforts through the Irish courts to force the internet service providers to police file-sharing in some way have all failed.

The labels did reach an out of court settlement with Ireland’s biggest ISP Eircom which resulted in the company voluntarily launching a three-strikes programme, but other net firms have so far refused to likewise voluntarily start sending out warning letters to customers suspected of file-sharing, meanwhile the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has been very critical of the Eircom system.

Following various false reports over the last year or so that the Irish government was about to announce new anti-piracy measures, everyone now seems certain proposals for a statutory instrument addressing the issue are likely to be published this month. It’s widely believed the government’s proposals will be for a fast-track injunctions system, making it easier for rights owners to get injunctions to force ISPs to block access to copyright infringing sites, similar to new anti-piracy measures being introduced in Spain, and distinct from the three-strikes style systems being adopted in the UK and France.

The fact that we are still awaiting those proposals makes it a little odd that EMI Ireland boss Willie Kavanagh chose to hit out at ministers on this issue this week, and even more so that he and the other majors would launch presumably expensive litigation. Presumably they suspect political types plan to procrastinate on this issue, and/or publish lacklustre proposals that won’t achieve the record industry’s aims for a crack down on piracy. Though we don’t really know that.

The lawsuit against the Irish government seemingly focuses on the country’s obligations under European law, and claims ministers have failed to fulfil EU obligations to help content owners protect their rights online, though the exact nature of their legal arguments is not yet clear, and the Irish Recorded Music Association is yet to comment on the action. Quite what the litigation will mean for the Irish government’s plan to publish their proposals for new anti-piracy rules later this month remains to be seen.

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