The Internet Service Providers' Association of Ireland (ISPAI) has issued a statement rebuffing the majors' "spurious" threats of legal action over broadband subscribers who are infringing copyright.

Following an out of court settlement with Irish ISP Eircom in January, the Irish Recorded Music Association, representing the four majors, wrote to other ISPs demanding that they implement a 'three-strikes' scheme such as that being introduced in France to inform users if they are infringing copyright, cut off repeat offenders, and block Web sites that provide access to copyrighted material.

IRMA stated that Eircom has already accepted the demands and threatens legal action against other ISPs who do not introduce such measures.

However, ISPAI has now responded with a statement insisting that the labels' demands could threaten users' privacy and damage Ireland's e-commerce sector.

"This [threatened] legal action is spurious and there is no evidence of wrong-doing by Internet service providers," said ISPAI general manager Paul Durrant. "These actions could impact on user privacy, damage the development of new Internet services, and hurt Ireland's standing as an e-commerce hub."

ISPAI's board of directors and the general manager consulted with the membership, who voted on a majority basis to approve the current position. ISPAI members include BT, O2, 3, Vodafone, Satellite Broadband Ireland, Irish Broadband and Eircom.

ISPAI said that it will continue to cooperate within the existing legal parameters of Irish law, which "provides an avenue for the pursuit of people breaching copyright through the courts."

The statement adds: "The ISPAI and its members have never condoned the use of its members' services for theft of copyrighted works of any kind, and continue to operate within the existing legal framework which has provisions for taking action where appropriate.

"Over two years ago ISPAI initiated meetings with the relevant music industry representative body to explore the issues but this was not followed up by the music industry."

The statement added that ISPAI could not ignore the protection of privacy of user communications in Irish and European law "merely because it does not suit another private party."

"ISPAI is disappointed that the great potential of the Internet, to provide opportunities to connect with users in new ways and develop new business models, is being missed by the music recording industry," added Durrant.

"We continue to be open to working with content owners in an industry where innovative new services are rapidly developing."