The IT Law Wiki


Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is

a system which enables computer users connected to the Internet to participate in live typed discussions much like instant messaging or chat lines.[1]
[a] system for chatting that involves special client and server software and informal conventions for participation. . . . IRC requires one site to act as the repository (or "chat site") for the messages.[2]


"IRC is analogous to a telephone party line, using a computer and keyboard rather than a telephone. With IRC, however, at any one time there are thousands of different party lines available, in which collectively tens of thousands of users are engaging in conversations on a huge range of subjects. Moreover, one can create a new party line to discuss a different topic at any time. Some IRC conversations are 'moderated' or include 'channel operators.'“[3]

IRC is based on a client-server model. IRC is made up of networked servers, where thou­sands of individuals use a “client” (software program) that connects them to an IRC server through an ISP. Several servers linked together make up a network. Once users connect to an IRC server, they can exchange text-based messages and files in real time with others who also are connected to the same network. All IRC users connected to the same channel receive the same message.

Some of the more popular IRC networks are —



  1. United States v. Kerr, 472 F.3d 517, 519 n.2 (8th Cir. 2006) (full-text).
  2. The Electronic Intrusion Threat to National Security and Emergency Preparedness Telecommunications: An Awareness Document, at F-3.
  3. American Civil Liberties Union v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824, 835 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (full-text), aff'd, Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997) (full-text).

See also[]

External links[]

  • The original standard for IRC is documented in RFC 1459, Internet Relay Chat Protocol (full-text). RFC 2810, RFC 2811, RFC 2812 and RFC 2813 contain additional information that supplements RFC 1459.