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Blackout Ireland – a response to IRMA’s censorship demands

As Adrian noted last week, IRMA are demanding that Eircom block the Pirate Bay — first on a list of websites they don’t like — on pain of being sued. On top of that, they intend for the other Irish ISPs to follow suit — here’s a key line from the letter they sent to Blacknight MD Michele Neylon:

in the event of a positive response to this letter it is proposed to make practical arrangements with Blacknight of a like nature to those made with eircom.

If that comes to pass, this will be an appalling situation for Irish internet users, and we need to act to ensure it doesn’t happen. Digital Rights Ireland:

The net effect of this scheme, if it is allowed to go into effect, will be to impose an internet death penalty on two groups. On users, who will be cut off on the allegation of a private body, with no court involvement, and on websites, which could be blocked to Irish users based on a court hearing where only one side is heard.

Pace Mulley:

So first they’ll start with the Pirate Bay. Then comes Mininova, IsoHunt, then comes YouTube (they have dodgy stuff, right?), how long before we have because someone quoted a newspaper article or a section of a book?

Digital Rights Ireland have posted an excellent document detailing the following plan of action for Irish internet users concerned about this:

  • Contact your ISP and let them know that this is a key issue for you, as their customer.

  • Join up with your fellow netizens. Subscribe to the Blackout Ireland blog. Follow the #blackoutirl hashtag on Twitter. Join the Blackout Ireland Facebook group. It looks likely that there’ll be a week-long blackout campaign starting next Thursday, March 5th.

  • Contact politicians. This is likely to cause irreparable damage to the Irish internet, so our pols should be very worried. See the DRI post for details on getting in touch with Minister for Communications Eamonn Ryan.

New Zealand is running their own blackout campaign right now, so that may help our planning.

International readers — make no mistake, you’re next. IRMA in this case is acting as the local delegate of IFPI, which stated in 2007 that this was one of the 3 technical options for ISPs to control piracy:

Here’s some other interesting coverage:

Fantastic interview with BitBuzz CEO Alex French:

If ISPs, including Eircom, agree not to oppose blocking access to The Pirate Bay and other similar websites, is this not an agreement to web censorship? “I don’t think there is any other way to interpret it,” said French.

“They are essentially agreeing to censor certain websites at the behest of the recording industry, without these websites ever having necessarily shown to be illegal in the Republic of Ireland. I would have a huge concern over what other websites may be blocked and what other industries will pile in now that the precedent has been set.”

Some sample letters:

And further discussion — here’s a massive discussion thread, now closed in favour of this newer thread.

Update: here’s the letter I sent to the Minister, if you’re curious or need inspiration.