Ireland's legal system has approved the disconnection of unlawful file-sharers from the internet, after a judge ruled such disconnections did not contravene data protection legislation.
The Irish high court had been examining the issue of disconnecting file-sharers of copyrighted material, after Eircom agreed to the 'three-strikes' disconnections in a settlement with EMI, Sony BMG, Warner and Universal.
In his judgement, delivered on Friday, Mr Justice Charleton said collecting the IP addresses of unlawful downloaders did not infringe on privacy. "None of the [record labels] have any interest in personally identifying any living person who is infringing their copyright by means of the settlement and protocol," he is quoted by Out-Law as saying.
"I do not regard it as at all likely that they will attempt in any way to use the IP address as supplied to them by DetectNet of those engaged in illegal downloading in order to find out their names and addresses."
Meanwhile on Friday, Geoff Taylor, the head of UK record industry group the BPI, told Billboard magazine that the music industry here would start suing people for unlawfully file-sharing copyrighted material. He said this action would be taken while the industry waits for the Digital Economy Act's technical measures provisions to be worked out — these measures could include account suspensions and bandwidth throttling, and will take about a year-and-a-half to become enforceable.
"The second obligation in the [Act] is for the service providers to keep infringer lists, so we will be able to ask the ISPs to give us lists of anonymous numbers of subscribers who we have identified the most number of times, and we will then be able to go to court to get the identities and names of addresses of those individuals and eventually bring legal proceedings, so even at the stage of the initial letters being sent there is the possibility that we will follow up with legal proceedings against the most egregious infringers," Taylor is quoted as saying.
Taylor added that the government "expects" the industry to "bring legal cases" to help it to decide whether or not introduce such measures.
"So we may well have to bring lawsuits at some level, and that is apparently expected of us by government, it is not something we really want to do because we believe that technical measures would be a better approach," Taylor said, adding that previous attempts to sue the public for file-sharing had been abandoned because it was technically difficult at the time to identify repeat infringers.