Irish Internet providers do not have to cut off users who have been found to have been illegally downloading music the Irish High Court has ruled.
The victory is a boost to Irish ISP UPC, which took the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) to court over the issue. The IRMA wanted UPC to disconnect any users found to have repeatedly downloaded copyrighted content, with the infamous, ‘three strikes and you’re out rule’.
The Irish high court made the ruling after deciding that there was nothing in Irish law that would force the ISPs to disconnect users, and that to do so would breach European legislation.
The ruling is of significance as it could impact policies in the UK.
The case came to court after the IRMA reached an out-of-court settlement with Eircom, Ireland’s largest ISP, that the latter would enforce the disconnection policy on the condition that other ISPs would follow suit so it would not be at a competitive disadvantage. UPC however, took umbrage at the IRMA’s gall, and hauled them off to court – and won.
Central to the decision was the admission that ISPs could not be liable for the information that flows along them and that they only have to respond in accordance with the law. However, as the judge noted, as the legislation isn’t currently in place to cut off offenders, it saw no reason to comply.
"UPC has repeatedly stressed that it does not condone piracy and has always taken a strong stance against illegal activity on its network," the UPC said in a public statement. "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," the statement continued.
"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," it added.
While it’s a victory for the ISP in the short term, IRMA is likely to now look to get the legislation in place so that judges are able to rule in its favour in the future.
Earlier this year, ACS Law sent out threatening letters to downloaders on behalf of its client the Ministry of Sound.