Ireland cracks down on Internet piracy

Ireland's main broadband supplier said Tuesday it had launched a crackdown on Internet piracy that could see customers being cut off if they share copyrighted music online illegally.

Ireland is believed to be one of the first countries in the world to move against Internet pirates under a system where people get three warnings - "three strikes" - before disconnection.

The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA), which targets web pirates, has begun supplying Eircom, the Republic's largest Internet service provider, with the details of thousands of suspected illegal file sharers.

IRMA - which has 55 members including Sony, Warner and EMI - is employing a net monitoring firm to trawl file-sharing sites and identify pirates.

Eircom, which has about 40 percent of the Irish market, said it was putting in place a pilot scheme of so-called "graduated response" to help deal with and prevent illegal sharing of music files.

"The company is committed to helping customers understand the issues surrounding the illegal file sharing of copyrighted music."

Eircom spokesman Paul Bradley told AFP it was unclear whether the graduated response being used in Ireland was the first in the world or not.

"It is definitely one of the first. Some people say that South Korea has a system in place. Certainly the UK is moving towards it and France as well," he said.

Using the information from IRMA, Eircom will contact customers to tell them their broadband connection has been linked to illegal music file sharing in breach of copyright and advising of steps to avoid repeating the infringement.

If the illegal file sharing continues, a second warning letter will tell customers they face having their service withdrawn for seven days if there is a further breach of the law.

If it goes on after this, broadband service will be disconnected for a year.

"The process has begun this week," Bradley said, "We will probably send out about 50 letters this week and then scale it up as time goes on."

Eircom says it is planning to launch a new streaming and download music service in partnership with the music industry that will provide a "legitimate music service" to customers.

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