The High Court in Ireland ruled that laws cutting off internet surfers who have downloaded content illegally cannot be enforced in the country. It is a victory for UPC, the Irish internet service provider, which took the legal action against copyright owners, including Sony and EMI.
It will also be a huge blow to the film and music industry, which wants the strict rules as a deterrent against piracy. Experts suggest that the ruling will have knock-on effects to similar policies in other countries. Mr Justice Peter Charleton, announced in his ruling that illegal file-sharing was “destructive of an important native industry”. He also added that there were no laws in Ireland to block and disconnect pirates from the internet, and that any attempts would be in breach of EU legislation.
UPC said in a statement that their ‘whole defence focused on the fact that an internet service provider cannot be held liable for content transmitted across its network’.
In May, Ireland’s biggest net firm, Eircom, began implementing a “three strikes and you’re out” rule. Although, this has been little more than a pre-emptive threat as they are yet to cut off internet for persistent pirates. The new ruling will also affect their strategy. In the UK, the Digital Economy Act has allowed for provisions for a similar stance on illegal downloading, but there are no current plans to cut people off.
Senior analyst, at research firm, Forrester, Mark Mulligan, thinks that it’s highly unlikely to happen here. “Although the legislation is framed, there is still so much of it that is vague. The implementation will be down to ISPs, content providers and Ofcom and is likely to be watered down” .