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Music-swapping sites to be blocked by internet providers
Sunday, February 22, 2009  By Adrian Weckler
Irish internet users are to be blocked from accessing music swapping websites, as internet service providers bow to pressure from the music industry. Eircom, the country’s biggest internet provider, is to start blocking its internet customers from accessing music swapping.

The country’s other internet providers have been told by the Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma) to follow suit or face legal action. If the music industry is successful, Ireland will become the first European country to completely block access to hundreds of file-sharing websites.

Irma, which represents major music groups EMI, Sony-BMG, Warner and Universal, is to begin compiling lists of websites that it claims are damaging its business. It will then apply for a court order, requiring Eircom and other internet providers to block access to these sites.

Under the terms of an agreement between Eircom and Irma, Eircom will not oppose any court application, meaning that the orders will be automatically granted. A spokesman for Eircom confirmed that Eircom ‘‘will not oppose any application [Irma] may make seeking the blocking of access from their network’’ to blacklisted websites.

The rest of the country’s internet providers, which include BT, UPC (which owns NTL and Chorus) and mobile operators, have yet to respond formally. The move was disclosed in a letter sent to internet providers last week, threatening legal action if they did not comply with Irma’s demands.

Irma has identified Pirate Bay, the world’s biggest file swapping website, as the first site that it will seek to have blocked. It will then move on to ‘‘similar websites’’.

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