Irish ISP closer to blocking Internet pirates


The Supreme Court in Ireland has paved the way for Internet Service Provider (ISP) Eircom to implement measures that could see copyright infringers barred from accessing the Internet.

The court has thrown out an appeal from the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) against a High Court ruling last year that deemed its objections unwarranted.

The DPC had claimed that the proposed measures, outlined by Eircom alongside four music companies, were in breach of privacy and data protection laws.

However, its claims were quashed by the court on July 2, which ruled there was “a complete absence of reasons” for such an appeal.

The court’s decision could pave the way for Eircom and its partners, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, to press ahead with the 'three strikes' plan that will see infringers given three warnings before possibly having their Internet access terminated.

But Gerard Kelly, associate at law firm Matheson Ormsby Prentice in Dublin, said there could still be further complications in pushing the proposals through.

“The Supreme Court expressly noted that for the purposes of the appeal it was not necessary to deal with the broader questions concerning the compatibility of such a regime with national and EU law,” he told WIPR.

“The Supreme Court indicated that another appeal would be looked at, and the door is still left open for such a challenge. There are issues such as the lack of an independent appeal process that is required under EU law to be considered.”

The 'three strikes' rule has been in the pipeline since 2009 but has attracted controversy for its seemingly harsh measures.

According to Kelly the measures are “more extreme” than other countries, but would be more effective at combatting the piracy problem.

He added: “Should it be implemented, it's not something that can be circumvented. It’s different to a simple blocking of websites, which is fairly easy to get around – in that respect it is more effective in dealing with online piracy.

“However, it is more extreme than the measures in force in other EU countries and even the voluntary process in the US, which is a six step order. Even then only mitigation comes into play – such as a slowing down of the service – rather than terminating customer accounts.”

ISP, Eircom, copyright, online piracy, Supreme Court