Maybe It’s Time To Cross Ireland Off “Places I’d Like To Live”

I can certainly understand why IRMA (the Irish Recorded Music Association—basically the Irish version of the RIAA) might frown on sites like The Pirate Bay, but is it really fair for a country’s record industry to demand that any site that has a link to a torrent of the entire Hothouse Flowers catalog be inaccessible to that country’s Internet userbase?

Just like here in the States, the recording industry of Ireland is trying to walk a fine balance between antipiracy efforts that the public will tolerate and its innate desire to keep people from downloading their music by shutting down the Internet entirely. The last agreement between the IRMA and Irish telecom giant Eircom had customers caught with their hand in the torrents jar subject to a “three strikes” rule—but instead of that somewhat reasonable idea, IRMA went for the full monty.

IRMA – which represents the “big four” labels; EMI, Sony-BMG, Universal and Warner – will compile a list of websites the group claims harbors illegal music sharing. The labels will then file a court order to attempt to force other Irish internet providers to block access to the site. Eircom’s compliance will be automatic.

Under the settlement deal, Eircom has agreed not to oppose any court applications to blacklist websites. Speaking to The Sunday Business Post, an Eircom spokesperson confirmed IRMAs claims of the provider’s automatic compliance.

The music labels said the notorious den of P2P, The Pirate Bay, will be the first website targeted under its new censorship regime before it moves unto “similar websites.”

IRMA’s letter demanded other Irish ISPs join blocking websites on the music group’s list or they’ll face a lawsuit the same as Eircom.

Sure, that seems fair. I’m not entirely sure what people download from the Pirate Bay that isn’t a copywritten work, but theoretically, you could, right? And what about file storage sites like Rapidshare, which would seem to be the next on the list? Sure, the new U2 album is likely hosted all over the site, but it does have clear legitimate uses as well. I don’t know about IRMA, which might be operated by completely reasonable people with extensive knowledge of the Internet, but it seems like something might go a bit wrong when one group with a very specific set of interests has the keys to nearly an entire country’s online network. Maybe I’m just being cynical.

Eircom to block Pirate Bay [The Register]