The Commercial Court (a division of the High Court) has ordered nine Irish internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to eight websites that provide internet users with free unauthorised access to commercially-produced motion pictures and television series.
The eight websites are Gomovies, Rarbg, Watchfree, 1337x, Yts, Bmovies, Putlocker and Eztv as well as their related domain names, IP addresses and URLs (Websites).
This was the second website blocking order obtained by the motion picture and television industry who were represented by Beauchamps.
Who are the plaintiffs?
The plaintiffs are eight well-known major film and television studios, namely, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios Productions LLLP, Universal Cable Productions LLC, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Inc., Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Sony Pictures Television Inc. (Studios).
Who are the defendants?
The ISPs are the major internet service providers in Ireland, having a combined market share of around 90%. None of the ISPs opposed the application and no costs were sought by the ISPs.
What are the criteria to grant the injunction?
In order to grant the website blocking injunction under Irish copyright legislation, the High Court had to satisfy itself that:
- there was an infringement of the Studios’ copyright
- the order would be dissuasive
- the order would be effective
- the granting of the order would be proportionate.
The Court was satisfied that the above criteria were met in the current case and that the order would not place an unreasonable burden on the ISPs. The Court stated that there was a significant public interest in combatting copyright infringement and preventing the illegal use of the internet for infringement of copyright. It noted that such illegal activity has a detrimental effect on the rights of creative artists to benefit from their creativity. It also interferes with the artists’ livelihood and with other businesses that legitimately distribution their material. No costs order was made by the Court.
How will this judgment impact the film industry in Ireland?
The judgment has been welcomed by the motion picture industry in Ireland. Websites that freely distribute content without sharing any of the cost or risk of production damage the motion picture industry in Ireland and put Irish jobs at risk. Preventing the Websites from freely disturbing the Studios’ work will help provide greater job security for the 18,000 people employed by the motion picture industry in Ireland. It also ensures that consumers continue to enjoy high quality content in the future.
Unlawfully making available copyright protected works destroys the constitutional and intellectual property rights of creative artists as well as their livelihoods. Such rights should be fully protected because the loss of cultural creativity will be immense and incalculable, not only to the creative artists but to society as a whole both in Ireland and world-wide.