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Irish Times Letter re EMI v UPC

Submitted via email to their letters page. This may be a bit too long for the format, but hey. Enjoy.

Madam, — Commentary in this paper and elsewhere has given the impression that Mr. Justice Charleton’s judgement on the EMI v. UPC case was a poor result for EMI and the other record companies represented. This is not necessarily the case. While UPC may not yet have to implement “three strikes”, there are many things to worry the Irish internet user in the judgement.

Mr. Justice Charleton states that he is satisfied that the business of the recording companies is being devastated by piracy, entirely based on evidence submitted by the record companies and IRMA. One of these assertions was that over 20,000 illegal downloads of an “Aslan” album had been “traced” — but no details of the methodology of this “tracing” has been produced.

Third-party attempts to reproduce this figure indicate that it is probable that an extremely naive approach was taken in this testing — the putative copies of the album available to download, and their large download figures, are in reality a lure used by criminals to persuade unwitting victims to provide their credit card details to fraudulent websites.

Worryingly, this flawed evidence has already been represented as fact in the Seanad by FF senator Paschal Mooney.

Other studies cited in the judgement have been criticised widely elsewhere, including by the US Government Accountability Office in its April 2010 report to the US Congress.

Mr. Justice Charleton goes on to suggest that all internet access from UPC (and presumably other ISPs) be filtered through a piracy-detection system. One wonders what the many companies who currently run internet-based services from Ireland would make of this proposal.

The government now seems keen to rush in and implement the filtering and blocking systems requested by IRMA and the music companies, as Mr. Justice Charleton recommends, or possibly even to give hand-outs to the music industry to compensate them, as IRMA demands. One hopes that more technical expertise will be brought to bear on the supposed “evidence” before this happens.

Yours, etc., Justin Mason