Three Strikes Is Out
The Irish record companies have said they’ll lobby the government to get the law changed.
Mr. Justice Peter Charleton denied an action brought by Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony BMG and EMI Records trying to force Internet service providers including UPC to adopt the three strikes rule to halt copyright infringement and piracy by Internet users.
Justice Charleton did acknowledge that recording companies and artists are being harmed by Internet piracy.
“This not only undermines their business but ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living. It is destructive of an important native industry,” he said.
However, the judge said laws were not in place in Ireland to enforce disconnections over illegal downloads despite the record companies’ complaints being merited. He also said the gap in legislation meant Ireland isn’t complying with European law.
UPC said it will work to identify and address the main areas of concern in the file-sharing debate.
“Our whole premise and defence focused on the mere conduit principle which provides that an internet service provider cannot be held liable for content transmitted across its network and today’s decision supports the principle that ISPs are not liable for the actions of internet subscribers,” UPC said in a statement.
Irish ISPs have been awaiting the outcome of the case against UPC, although it’s not yet known what effect the judgment will have on Eircom’s agreement with record labels to enforce three strikes.
Last year Eircom agreed to operate a three-strikes policy as part of an out of court settlement in a copyright infringement case brought by the major labels.
The Irish Recorded Music Association agreed not to pursue Eircom for lost revenues provided the country’s leading ISP introduced a three-strikes rule for all of its 750,000 broadband customers.
IRMA director-general Dick Doyle told the Irish Times that Justice Charleton’s ruling means his office will now need to pressure the government to reform the law in favour of record labels.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Ministry of communications spokesman Eamon Ryan said the ruling raises a number of important issues and he will meet representatives from the music industry and Internet providers to “formulate an agreed approach.”