Vodafone May Try ‘Three Strikes’

While EMI Ireland chief exec William Kavanagh warned there’ll be no record industry in Ireland within five years unless illegal file-sharing was tackled, Vodafone Ireland appears to be looking to join Eircom in a clampdown on file-sharing.

The company, which is Ireland’s second-biggest Internet service provider with 21 percent of the broadband market, is reportedly in talks with the record industry about joining Eircom and operating a “three strikes and you’re out” rule for those involved in illegal file-sharing.

Between the two, Eircom and Vodafone provide nearly two-thirds of all household broadband connections in the Republic.

Eircom began a pilot scheme last month it refers to as a “graduated response protocol.” So far, about 800 illegal file-sharers have already received a warning letter.

Eircom was forced to act as part of an out-of-court settlement when settling a copyright case brought by the Irish record companies.

It agreed to issue three warnings to illegal file-sharers who download music through peer-to-peer networks. After a fourth offense, they would find their broadband cut off for a year.

Vodafone recently issued a statement saying it’s aware of the Eircom actions and acknowledged that illegal file-sharing represents a “serious issue for the Irish music industry.” It said it would be looking at “appropriate steps” consistent with “applicable legislation and recent judicial decisions.”

The Irish Times quoted Kavanagh as saying there’s been “significant progress” in the talks with Vodafone and any resulting agreement would make Ireland the European leader in terms of dealing with illegal file-sharing.

He admitted the Irish record industry has halved in size in the last four years. It had been hoped that last year would see a “bottoming out” of the decline in record sales as a result of illegal downloading. However, record sales were down a further 12 percent this year.

In Spain, Vodafone has started a successful policy of charging €6 a month for 20 tracks, but the company insists it is too early to say what kind of model it would adapt in Ireland.

In related news, falf of UK residents agree repeated illegal file-sharers should have their Internet connection suspended, according to a poll conducted for Wiggin’s Entertainment Survey.

About 48 percent of people polled agreed with disconnecting them, with only 14 percent against it.

An even higher number agreed that “protecting creative industries” is important. Web blocking emerged as the most popular sanction against online infringement. One-quarter backed it, while 14 percent favoured criminal prosecutions and 11 percent suspensions.

In line with other surveys, almost two-thirds of those polled said they didn’t engage in unlicensed file sharing. About 8 percent regularly sought out unlicensed material, 15 percent did so occasionally, and 15 percent rarely.