Irish Firm Scores Victory For File Sharing

An Irish internet provider has scored a major victory for file sharers in Dublin's High Court yesterday, defeating the implementation of the "three strike" rule.

UPC, one of Ireland's largest Internet Service Providers (ISP), won the major legal victory against four of the world's most powerful record companies, Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony BMG and EMI Records.

Delivering its ruling, the High Court in Dublin found there was no precedent in Irish law to force ISPs to identify and disconnect people accused of illegally downloading copyrighted files.

The finding means UPC will not be required to take part in the three strikes programme being called for by the record majors.

In April, the Irish High Court ruled internet users would be cut off from the internet after a third offense of piracy, after major Irish music labels sued Eircom, the country’s largest ISP, for not taking any responsibility for piracy.

Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony BMG and EMI Records forced Eircom through the court to implement a three strikes system that would including an informal warning at the first stage, designed to highlight the problem, a stern written warning at the second stage, threatening disconnection, and then a disconnection for seven days at the third stage. If a user continued to break the rules then disconnection for a full year followed.

However, Eircom's competitor UPC said there was a lack of any legal basis for the requirements and took the issue once again to the courts.

Justice Peter Charleton yesterday admitted a "substantial portion" of UPC's 150,000 customers were illegally file-sharing, but said no laws were in place to prosecute them.

"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.

UPC said it has "repeatedly stressed" it does not condone piracy and "has always taken a strong stance against illegal activity on its network".


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