IFPI welcomes Irish high court decision on illegal file-sharing
16th April 2010
The international recording industry today applauded a landmark High Court decision in Ireland that helps prepare the way for the introduction of new measures to reduce illegal file-sharing in the country.
Today's decision confirms the legality of a graduated response system to address illegal file-sharing in Ireland. The judge ruled that an agreement struck last year between the country's largest ISP and the music industry to tackle internet piracy does not violate data protection laws.
Welcoming the judgment, IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy said:
"This is a hugely important decision that sends a resounding message about the need for creators and artists' rights to be protected on the internet. It confirms the key principle that intellectual property rights should be protected no differently online than they are in the physical world. This sends a strong message to governments that are now considering how to help their creative industries address the threat of mass online piracy. In particular, it highlights the viability of the graduated response approach that has recently been adopted through legislation in the UK and France."
Today's High Court judgment considers the terms of a settlement reached between the Irish music industry and the country's leading internet service provider, Eircom, to address piracy on its networks. Under the terms of the settlement between Eircom and the music industry group IRMA, the ISP agreed to implement a graduated response system to address illegal file-sharing. Eircom would send warnings to infringing file-sharers with the possible sanction of account suspension for those ignoring the messages and continuing to infringe.
During its implementation, the settlement was referred back to the Court due to concerns raised by Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner that the settlement could be incompatible with data protection laws. The judge has now firmly rejected these concerns and held that the implementation of the settlement is lawful and does not involve a breach of data protection law. The decision has vindicated IRMA's position that in the context of graduated response an IP address refers solely to the network address of a computer and is not personal data when in IRMA's possession.
Following the decision, IRMA and Eircom will now proceed with their graduated response to illegal filesharing which was agreed in February 2009. The first step is an educational and awareness campaign. The system allows for three notifications and the possible sanction of account suspension after three infringements.
Speaking after the decision, Dick Doyle, Director General of IRMA said: "We are very pleased with this decision today. Resolving this issue has caused six months of disruption to the IRMA/Eircom agreement. We will now proceed immediately to implement the full agreement.
Willie Kavanagh, Chairman of IRMA, added: "The whole music industry, including performers, composers and record labels, has been decimated by illegal peer to peer traffic and our losses amount to over €60m per annum. Our industry has lost 40 per cent in sales value between 2005 and 2009 with devastating effects on artists and creativity. Today's decision is the first step back towards allowing artists to make a living again."
Excerpts from today's judgment by Mr Justice Peter Charleton:
"The right to be identified with and to reasonably exploit one's own original creative endeavour I regard as a human right."
The written judgment can be viewed on www.court.ie