Broadband providers ordered to block illegal streaming sites

Major film and TV studios say up to 1.3 million users here may be involved in illegally accessing their output

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

Six major film and TV studios have secured injunctions directing internet service providers to block access to websites involved in illegal streaming or downloading of films and TV shows.

Mr Justice Brian Cregan made the orders against nine internet service providers after saying it was “clear” from evidence before the court breaches of the studios’ copyright had “manifestly occurred.”

The orders would not amount to a breach of lawful use of the internet and were not disproportionate, said the judge.

Their proceedings were brought against a number of ISPs – Eircom, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.

None opposed the application for the injunctions and the court heard they had adopted a neutral stance.

The studios, all members of the Motion Picture Association, sought the orders on grounds including up to 1.3 million users here may be involved in illegally accessing their films via various websites.

Represented by Jonathan Newman SC, the companies argued digital piracy is costing the studios hundreds of millions annually and, according to recent research, led to the loss of 500 jobs here in 2015 and €320 million in lost revenues.

The plaintiffs are Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Disney Enterprises, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures Television and Columbia Pictures. Their case was supported by independent distributors and film-makers in Ireland.

Disable access

In a ruling on Monday evening, Mr Justice Cregan granted orders requiring the ISPs to block or disable access by subscribers to a number of websites, known as “streaming” websites, including movie4k.to, primewire.ag and onwatchseries.to.

There was no opposition to the orders but the court was asked to deal with issues raised by Eir.

Eir said it was prepared to pay the cost involved in dealing with the relevant websites to date but was concerned about the cost implications if it had to deal with a large number of these sites into the future.

It asked the court to put a cap on the number of notifications per month, which the movie companies could make directing the ISPs to block websites.

Conor McDonnell, solicitor for Eir, said it was suggesting a cap of perhaps 50 notifications per month but the movie companies were opposed to any cap.

The judge said there should be no cap on the amount of notifications for the time being.

The judge welcomed that Eir and the movie studios had resolved another outstanding issue in relation to the temporary blocking of certain websites.

He ruled no costs order should be made in the case.