FOUR music companies are seeking court orders to block Irish internet users from accessing the free file-sharing website Pirate Bay and related websites.
About 200,000 Irish users access the Pirate Bay site monthly, the Commercial Court heard. The companies have brought the case against five internet service providers (ISPs) to get them to block or disable access to the sites by their subscribers.
The case will involve the first court examination of new copyright legislation introduced in February.
The action is by EMI, Sony, Warner Music and Universal against UPC, Imagine, Vodafone, Digiweb and Hutchison 3G Ltd. All the defendants consented to fast-tracking the case in the Commercial Court.
EMI chairman Willie Kavanagh, who is also chairman of the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA), said the Pirate Bay website operated as "a vast directory of what is overwhelmingly copyright material".
But he said: "Internet users are taking this material and making it available for download, copying and onward distribution."
An expert had estimated the minimum advertising revenue of the Pirate Bay website at between $20.5m (€15.5m) to $36m (€27m).
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said it appeared the defendant companies were "innocent parties" seeking to achieve a constructive end to the litigation.
He said the best approach may be to have experts for the sides get together to work out a way forward.