2 September 2014

High Court grants order requiring ISPs to block Pirate Bay

11:35, Post Reporter

The High Court has granted an order requiring UPC and other Irish internet service providers to block the The Pirate Bay, a website known for swapping music illegally. The ISPs have 30 days to implement the order.

The case, brought by EMI, Sony, Warner and Universal against UPC, Vodafone, O2, Imagine, Digiweb and 3, sought a judicial order blocking The Pirate Bay. Todays ruling means that even if the website changes its location on the web the music companies will not need to make new applications to have it blocked.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern ruled that although none of the defendant companies were wrongdoers in the case, they had effectively adopted a neutral stance and were the conduit through which wrongful activity conducted by The Pirate Bay has been effected.

"There is no doubt but that this activity has caused, and continues to cause, substantial financial damage to the plaintiffs," said the judge.

UPC is the country’s second biggest broadband provider after Eircom, which has already voluntarily blocked The Pirate Bay. Some 200,000 Irish people, or 8 per cent of internet users in the country, access the Pirate Bay sites monthly, the court heard. Lawyers for the music company said that illegal file-sharing is devastating sales of music, film and TV.

UPC issued a statement last week saying that it did not have visibility of what its customers do online.

“UPC’s position remains unchanged," it said. "Piracy in general is a collective and industry wide concern. From a UPC perspective, we firmly believe people should pay for content they consume.”

“As an industry, Pay-TV has pioneered encryption technology to prevent piracy of the TV signal. However, we have no visibility as to what users do online.”

“Our position is that ISPs should not, on a voluntary basis, decide what can or should be consumed by users.”

“It is the government or the courts who are the appropriate body to make such determinations and we await Judge McGovern’s decision in this regard.”

The case is the first test of the controversial change in law - dubbed ‘Irish SOPA’ - introduced by Labour Minister Sean Sherlock in February of last year.

A similar High Court case taken by the music labels in 2011 failed with the judge in the case ruling that a change in Irish law was required to give effect to court orders blocking websites.

UPC has 316,000 broadband customers in Ireland.

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