A body representing some of the world’s biggest TV and film studios has secured High Court injunctions blocking several websites involved in illegal downloading and streaming of films and TV shows.
The injunctions were granted at the Commercial Court on Monday by Mr Justice Brian McGovern, who said he was satisfied that the websites had engaged in widespread infringement of the TV and movies studios’ copyright.
There was a significant public interest in granting the orders, he said, to protect the livelihoods of those whose copyright was being infringed and to safeguard the business of companies involved in the legitimate distribution of such material.
The orders, made under the 2000 Copyright and Related Act, were sought by the Motion Picture Association, which represents Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney, Columbia and Sony Pictures.
The plaintiffs claimed the sites were breaching their copyright.
Their proceedings were against Ireland’s main internet service providers (ISPs): Eircom, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.
None of the ISPs opposed the injunctions application.
The group claimed up to 1.5 million people in Ireland may be involved in illegally accessing their films on one of the websites.
The websites blocked include GoMovies, located at 123movieshub.to; Rarbg, located at rarbg.to; EZTV, located at eztv.ag; and Watchfree, currently located at gowatchfreemovies.to.
Some of the websites streamed movies via the internet and have been providing users with an extensive library of unauthorised copies of content.
The other websites distributed movies and films through the internet used via peer-to-peer file sharing.
Jonathan Newman SC, for the group, said the sites in question had offered for viewing many movies and programmes that are copyright of his client’s members.
The association was concerned because the sites had “very substantial” numbers of users in Ireland. Movies and programmes on one of the sites had been viewed between 1.5 million and 1.3 million times, counsel said.
Counsel said those behind the websites had hidden anything to do with their identities or their physical location.
Email correspondence was sent by the association’s lawyers to the sites concerning the copyright infringements but no responses had been received, counsel said.
Similar orders were granted by the Irish courts in relation to other sites that had been involved in such activities, he said.
Such orders have proven to be effective in other jurisdictions, and there was clear evidence that the orders sought are “dissuasive, effective and proportional” in countering copyright infringement.