Irish ISP victorious against Warner, Universal, Sony and EMI

Music industry loses landmark music download case

Irish ISP giant UPC has won a legal case against four major music labels in a decision being called an illegal music download landmark case.

Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony BMG and EMI Records had been pressing a case to force ISPs to impliment a "three strikes" system to combaqt copyright infringing file sharing by Internet users. The Irish High Court ruled that laws to identity and cut-off ISP customers were not enforcable in Ireland.

In the judgement issued by Justice Peter Charleton, the Irish Times reported that the court said record companies were being harmed by Internet piracy and that it "not only undermines their business but ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living."

However the court also found that Irish laws were not in a position to force disconnections over illegal download activity despite finding that the case by record companies had merit. The record companies had complained that they provided a list of infringing customers but UPC had failed to act, echoing a similar complaint against another Irish ISP Eircom.

However the court ultimately found that there was a gap in Irish legislation to comply with the wishes of the record companies and far from being a substantial victory for illegal file sharers, Justice Peter Charleton said this meant that Ireland was not complying with European law which may pave the way for new legislation to compell ISPs to act.

"Our whole premise and defence focused on the mere conduit principal which provides that an internet service provider cannot be held liable for content transmitted across its network and today’s decision supports the principal that ISPs are not liable for the actions of internet subscribers," said UPC in a statement. 

"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," said Irish RMA boss Dick Doyle.

"We will now look to the Irish Government to fully vindicate the constitutional rights of copyright holders and we reserve the right to seek compensation for the past and continuing losses from the State."

Image credit: Alosh Bennett

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