Internet Service Providers says it is impossible for them to monitor the transfer of copyrighted material online.

The comments come after U2's manager called on ISPs to bill customers for music downloaded over the internet.

Paul McGuinness says that illegal downloads and file-sharing sites are affecting everyone associated with the business and have left the music industry 'in freefall'.

He has called on ISPs to play a part in helping to impose charges for music downloads, arguing that they can monitor everything subscribers do online.

Mr McGuinness says the music industry should invite internet providers to become partners and build a model with content owners, so tracks can be properly paid for.

But the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland says it is impossible for members to identify content that is transferred.

General Manager Paul Durrant says monitoring of internet usage is in breach of the every privacy, telecommunication and data protection law that exists.

He says calls for this level of monitoring is akin to asking ISPs to spy on everything that is happening on the internet in an attempt to pick out when an illegal download is happening.

Mr Durrant describes such calls as draconian and over the top.