Four leading record companies — EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner — have come together to launch a High Court action aimed at forcing the country’s former monopoly operator and largest broadband ISP eircom to take measures designed to stop people downloading music illegally using its high speed networks. In a legal case that will be watched closely by telcos and music firms around the globe, the four industry heavyweights are looking to overturn eircom’s decision not to use filtering technology, such as a piece of software from Audible Magic Corporation, or other measures to voluntarily block or filter material that violates copyrights and licences from its network. The High Court case follows an announcement by eircom in October 2007 in which it said it was unable to use filter software on its servers. Rather than taking on the individual downloaders, however, the record companies are mounting a case against the primary ISPs in an effort to force a change. They claim that for every legal download, a further 20 illegal ones take place and in Ireland alone the problem has grown so big that Willie Kavanagh, managing director of EMI records (Ireland) and chairman of the Irish Recorded Music Association, says the industry is suffering ‘a dramatic and accelerating decline’ in income. Music (recording) sales dipped from EUR146 million (USD224 million) to EUR102 million in the Republic last year, he said, with a substantial portion of the drop attributed to illegal downloads. The four companies want the court to issue orders under the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 to restrain the former monopoly from allowing its network to be used for the illegal download or sharing of copyrighted material.
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