Internet copyright law signed


A ministerial order allowing record labels and other copyright holders to seek legal injunctions against internet service providers that allow access to websites containing copyrighted material was signed into law today.

Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock said the statutory instrument was necessary “to ensure compliance with our obligations under EU law”.

The proposal to bring in the law sparked much criticism over its open-ended nature.

Mr Sherlock acknowledged the desire of some interested parties that the statutory instrument should be “more detailed and prescriptive”.

However, the High Court had “significant guidance” on the measure from the European Court of Justice, he said.

The legislation resulted from a 2010 High Court ruling in which music publisher EMI sought an injunction against internet service provider (ISP) UPC, ordering it to block access to websites allowing illegal downloading.

Mr Sherlock said the High Court would have to ensure that any remedy provided would uphold certain principles: freedom to conduct a business by operators such as ISPs; a requirement that an ISP cannot be required to monitor information on its network; and measures must be fair, proportionate and not unnecessarily complex or costly.

Any remedy would also have to respect the rights of an ISP’s customers to protection of personal data and freedom to receive and impart information, he said.

The move was criticised by Green Party leader and former TD Eamon Ryan.

ISPs and rights holders would now be “stuck in court battles while the policymaking process decides the rule of the game”, Mr Ryan said.

“We have thrown the copyright issue over to the courts without any public policy guidance to help them decide the case law,” he said.

The Stop SOPA Ireland campaign group, which organised a petition signed by more than 80,000 people against the law, said it was a “bad decision”.