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IRMA Threatens Irish ISPs

Michele Neylon

I don't want to get into the entire Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) vs Eircom and IRMA vs ISPs debacle.

The only reason I'm even writing this is because I'm getting a bit tired of all the "quotes" of "quotes" and other unclear and misleading things that people have been saying about ISPs over the last few weeks.

To start with, we at Blacknight are not an access provider.

Basically that means that we do not provide broadband services (internet access) to anyone. We provide hosting, domain registration and a lot of other services.

We are, however, members of both RIPE and ISPAI

So I was more than a bit taken aback when we got a letter from solicitors representing IRMA (EMI, Sony, Universal Music and Warner).

Since so many people have heard about these letters but so very few people have actually seen one I've taken the liberty of publishing the one we received below (I'm not sure if our legal counsel will approve, but I'm more than a little tired of all the "cloak and dagger"). Sorry it's a PDF, but I wasn't going to type it out again!

Since we don't provide access, as I've already said, I don't see how this can affect us, so I instructed our legal counsel to tell them as much:

Dear Sirs,

We act as solicitors for Blacknight Internet Solutions Limited who have handed us a copy of yours of the 13th inst. We have explained the contents in detail to our clients who acknowledges your clients situation.

It is most important to note however that our clients are a hosting provider. This is distinct to an access provider and our client therefore does not offer DSL or other internet access services.

We understand that the agreement with Eircom relates to DSL services, which make illegal filesharing possible. Again we reiterate that our clients do not offer this service. Nor does our client have any subscribers as outlined in your letter.

We sympathise with your clients, we hope you will see that our clients are not involved in such activities and therefore we would be grateful if you would kindly revert and confirm our clients cooperation and also a release from any legal action as mentioned in your aforesaid letter.

Obviously we cannot and will not condone any illegal activity on our network and will quite happily enforce our terms of service should we find them breached.

However the reality is that most of the "illegal content" that we do find on our network ends up there due to servers being hacked or people using weak passwords, though there have been exceptions!

Ultimately as a service provider we have to be answerable to our clients as well as the law. So if someone gets a court order we will act on it, however we will not share client data with $random 3rd parties.

If you have an issue with one of our clients for whatever reason then get a court order — sending us silly threats isn't going to work. Seriously.

Demanding that ISPs act as a replacement for the judicial system, due process and all those lovely things that we expect in a democracy, is unreasonable. Apart from anything else the privacy issues cannot be ignored.

From a purely business perspective.. it's a bit like David taking on Goliath in some respects.. While there are several large ISPs being targetted, others wouldn't be much bigger than ourselves in terms of staff numbers etc., It's highly doubtful that any of the smaller providers could really afford to engage in a lengthy and costly legal battle.

I guess we'll see how things progress in the coming days and weeks ....

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions. More blog posts from Michele Neylon can also be read here.

Related topics: Access Providers, Data Center, Law, P2P, Policy & Regulation, Web

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