Ireland has become the first country in the world to begin the 'three strikes' rule of banning users from the web if they are accused three times of breaking copyright.

Eircom, Ireland's largest ISP, begins using the "graduated scheme" this week, albeit in pilot form.

The new ruling, which was agreed by Irish courts back in April, is seen as controversial there doesn't actually have to be any proof of copyright infringement, just accusation.

Going legit

The new system has been put into place after Eircom settled out of court with the Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma) in February, with the suggestion that the "graduated scheme" would be used to monitor the ISP's 750,000 broadband users.

Although it is expected that 50 IP addresses a week will be processed in the scheme, identifying users of P2P sites who are seen to be sharing (as well as downloading) copyrighted material.

Eircom will not be doing this itself but has given a third-party company, Dtecnet, the job of identifying illegal file sharers.

According to the Irish Times, the 'first strike' for infringers will be a phone call. After the third, the user will be cut off from the internet for a week.

One more and the ban will last for a year.

Speaking about the new system, Dick Doyle, director general of Irma, said: "We are trying to encourage people to go back to legitimate networks to get their music."

It will be interesting to see if these types of scare tactics actually work.

Via BoingBoing