Irish Internet provider Eircom has agreed to a settlement with the four major record companies—EMI, Universal, Warner, and Sony—that will have the ISP shutting down users who are downloading music illegally from the Internet. Under the agreement, record companies will supply Eircom with the IP addresses of users they believe are illegally distributing music via P2P applications or other services; Eircom will give the users two warnings, and if the actions persist, shut down the accounts.
The move may be the beginning of a sea change amongst ISPs, who have historically argued that they just provide connectivity, and aren’t responsible for policing customer’s actions or monitoring content transferred via their networks. Record companies and other content providers, however, have increasingly been pressuring major ISPs to act as traffic cops, monitoring data flowing to and from users in an effort to clamp down on copyright violations.
Eircom’s settlement with the record companies is in lieu of the companies’ initial demand that Eircom install software on their network that could identify copyrighted content via fingerprinting technology. The case had been at trial eight days before the settlement was announced.
As part of the agreement, the record companies have pledged to “take all necessary steps” to put similar agreements in place with every ISP in Ireland.
In the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently abandoned its practice of filing lawsuits against individuals believed to be engaging in illegal file sharing, and is instead working with major ISPs like Comcast and AT&T to reduce piracy.
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