Irish ISP Defeats Mandatory “Three-Strikes”

Irish ISP Defeats Mandatory “Three-Strikes”

High Court rules Irish law doesn’t require ISPs to identify and disconnect illegal file-sharers, meaning UPC will not be forced to comply with Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) demands that it implement a “three-strikes” regime to deal with online copyright infringement.

It was back in 2008 that the so-called “Big Four” music labels, Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony BMG and EMI Records began pressing Irish ISPs to begin disconnecting illegal file-sharers from the Internet, and now, it seems, we finally have the country’s High Court opinion of whether the demand is legal or not.

The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) initially targeted Eircom, the country’s largest ISP, back in April of 2008, and after more than ten months of legal wrangling the ISP decided to settle out of court and voluntarily establish a “three-strikes” graduated response system.

UPC, on the other hand, vowed to “vigorously defend its position in court,” a decision that was vindicated with today’s ruling. For according to the Irish Times, the High Court in Dublin ruled today that Irish law doesn’t require ISPs to identify and disconnect illegal file-sharers.

Justice Peter Charleton did, however, caution that the lack of such provisions in Irish Law technically means the country is not in compliance with European law, and that considering its place within the European Union the govt must therefore address the issue.

He also made a point of condemning illegal file-sharing, his judgment reading that it “not only undermines their [music] business but ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living” and that “it is destructive of an important native industry.”

UPC was obviously happy with today’s decision.

“UPC has repeatedly stressed that it does not condone piracy and has always taken a strong stance against illegal activity on its network.” it said in a statement. “It takes all steps required by the law to combat specific infringements which are brought to its attention and will continue to co-operate with rights holders where they have obtained the necessary court orders for alleged copyright infringements. Our whole premise and defense focused on the mere conduit principal which provides that an internet service provider cannot be held liable for content transmitted across its network and today’s decision supports the principal that ISPs are not liable for the actions of internet subscribers.”

The IRMA, on the other hand, was “disappointed” with the news, and framed the ruling as failure of the govt to “protect the constitutional rights of copyright holders.”

“The High Court has acknowledged that Irish artists, composers and recording companies are sustaining huge losses and internet providers are profiting from the wholesale theft of music,” said Dick Doyle, IRMA’s Director General. “The Judge made it very clear that an injunction would be morally justified but that the Irish legislature had failed in its obligation to confer on the courts the right to grant such injunctions unlike other EU states.”

He added that the IRMA now plans to pressure the govt to enact the “three-strikes” legislation necessary to disconnect illegal file-sharers from the Internet, and that in the meantime it “reserves the right” to seek compensation from the govt for “past and continuing losses” it believes it’s causing.

Stay tuned.

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