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Ireland's largest ISP to start 'throttling' illegal downloaders

Irish companies’ agreement to voluntarily deny filesharers Internet service seen as potential model.

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As record companies across the world continue to fight a largely losing battle to protect their copyrights, they are looking to a voluntary agreement with Eircom, Ireland's largest Internet service provider (ISP), as a possible new model.

Next month, Eircom will be rolling out the trial phase of the strategy promised in the agreement, testing a new "three strikes and you're out" approach to first delay, and then deny, Internet service to people who use filesharing networks to illegally download music.

First-time offenders will get a warning on their bill; a second offense will see service "throttled," which means that download speeds will be reduced to a snail's pace, and a third offense will cause disconnection.

One Dublin based file-sharer, Stephen Whelan, isn’t working up a sweat over the Eircom deal: “There’s plenty of other operators out there."

The music industry has been casting about for a means to limit filesharing for years; until recently, it was relying on a model of fear and punishment. But its public image has taken a beating – particularly after the heavy publicity it received for the recent $2 million judgment in its favor against a Minnesota woman who downloaded 24 songs.

Approaches like the one in Ireland are emerging as a new favorite. Last year, legislation in a number of countries moved closer to establishing this sort of graduated response model.

But Ireland is first in reaching a voluntary agreement and not requiring that an ISP have a court order to disconnect. An Internet detection company, DetecNet, will ferret out the IP addresses of those it believes are illegally downloading.

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