U2 manager praises 'significant' ruling


U2 MANAGER Paul McGuinness last night praised the decision of the High Court, which he said would help protect copyright owners and would have “massive international significance”.

“This identifies Ireland as a place where copyright is defined and protected in a modern way,” said Mr McGuinness. “It shows Ireland is a safe place not just for copyright but also patents, and that will have implications for other industries like technology and pharmaceuticals.”

He has been a vocal critic of internet service providers (ISP) and the technology industry in the past, saying they are enabling the theft of creative works.

The decision by Mr Justice Peter Charleton paves the way for Eircom to implement a “three strikes” system whereby subscribers found to repeatedly download music illegally would have their broadband connection cut off. The major music labels are looking for other ISPs to implement a similar system, and have begun legal proceedings against cable company UPC.

However, Ronan Lupton, the chairman of Alto, which represents the telecoms industry, said the labels agreement with Eircom was a private one and did not apply to other ISPs unless the courts made such a direction. He called on the Data Protection Commissioner to appeal the decision to the European Courts.

Stressing he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of U2, Mr McGuinness said a “graduated response” such as the one Eircom will now introduce will have the effect of educating consumers. “Worldwide parents take responsibility in their own home for stopping their kids downloading pornography,” he said. “They need to apply the same approach to music.” He said 95 per cent of music downloaded on the internet is done illegally.