What is happening?
- IRMA, the Irish Recorded Music Association, wants to block Irish Internet users’ access to certain websites.
- They have written letters to Irish Internet providers telling them, under threat of legal action, to allow IRMA to tell them what websites to block. Eircom has already agreed to this. They will settle every application for website blocking out of court.
- No sites have been blocked yet. We have limited time to act before the bans are set.
- A copy of the letter sent out to Irish ISPs has been kindly made available by Michele Neylon of Blacknight Solutions. Read it here.
IRMA believes that by blocking websites like thepiratebay.org it will reduce piracy in Ireland and preserve some of its profits.
What’s the problem?
- Blackout Ireland does not think that this will be effective in combating piracy. Furthermore, we think it is a serious breach of civil liberties and that it constitutes censorship.
- There is no certainty in what sites IRMA will include in their requests for banning. Will they seek to ban websites that merely link to copyrightable content, without actually hosting it? Proxy websites that could serve to circumvent the ban? Sites like riaaradar.com that promote boycotting members of record label associations? Blogs that criticize IRMA’s actions? This very website? There is no telling where IRMA will draw the line. This is a very slippery slope.
- Blocking websites never works. It creates free publicity for the site in question. Pirates will always be able to circumvent blocks with ease. Legitimate paying users will be once again be the ones most inconvenienced and have their freedom of communication restricted the most.
- Censorship is not a solution. It is avoiding the issue. It does not pay artists for their work.
- Blackout Ireland thinks the solutions proposed by the EFF and the European Green Party Free Alliance are much more effective. Their respective solutions benefit both artists and music fans. They embrace new technology rather than shunning it.
What can I do?
Please contact your Internet service provider (ISP).
- A list of emails addresses to contact can be found here.
- Make it clear in your email/letter that you are, as a customer, very concerned about this issue.
- Tell your ISP that if they implement IRMA’s threats you will consider changing to a provider who does not cave in to demands for censorship.
- Be polite and clear.
- A sample letter may be found here but please personalize it to reflect your thoughts and opinion
- Please contact the TD for your constituency.
- Contact details may be found here.
- Tell your representative that this is an important issue to you, as a constituent.
- Ask them if they are willing to stand up for the right of Irish people to communicate freely on the Internet.
- Tell them why you think giving third-party companies the power to ban websites is a bad thing and is setting a dangerous precedent.
- Tell them that their actions relating to this issue will strongly affect your voting preferences.
- Please contact Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan TD
- He can be phoned at 01 – 618 3097
- He can be emailed at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tell him you are extremely worried about IRMA’s desire to censor Irish communications.
- Tell him Ireland’s image will be damaged internationally if we gain the reputation as a place with restricted Internet communications.
- Remind him that in Italy, a very similar blocking of The Pirate Bay was overruled in court citing European Directive, 2000/31 CE which is also applicable in Ireland.
- Ask him if he is willing to implement any of the solutions proposed by his party?
- Take part in Blackout Week
- To demonstrate your feelings about this issue online you can make your avatar black on any websites you have a presence on.
- This is inspired by Creative Freedom New Zealand’s blackout campaign.
- From Black Thursday on the 5th of March, for one week, set your picture on sites like Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, MSN, etc black to raise awareness for Blackout Ireland.
- On that Thursday we encourage you to express yourself publicly about this issue. Whether by blog posts, letters to newspapers or any form of communication you can think of.
Who are Blackout Ireland?
Blackout Ireland are a group of Irish Internet users who are concerned by the prospect of Ireland having a censored Internet. We do not think private companies should be allowed dictate what websites the Irish people are allowed to visit.