THREE major music companies have been granted orders which will allow internet service providers here to block access to a file-sharing website as part of efforts to prevent "wholesale copyright theft" on "a grand scale".
There were about 280,000 unique visitors from Ireland to the "Kickass Torrents (KAT) site and related websites last September alone", Mr Justice Peter Kelly said yesterday in the High Court when he granted orders sought by Sony, Warner and Universal.
The judge was satisfied many of those were engaged in copyright infringement, devastating the ability of a generation of creative people to make a living from their talents.
The "telling figures" were demonstrative of "illegal and dishonest" activity "being pursued on a grand scale", he said.
What was involved here was "thieving and dishonesty" by persons who were mis- using other people's property.
He made the comments in the Commercial Court when granting an application by Jonathan Newman, for the music companies, for orders requiring internet service providers (ISPs) Vodafone, UPC, Digiweb, Hutchison 3G Ltd and Telefonica Ireland Ltd to block access by their subscribers to the KAT website.
None of the defendants objected to the orders and the judge described them as "innocent" parties whose co-operation with a protocol aimed at preventing illegal downloading of copyright material indicated they realised the illegality and dishonesty involved in such activity and did not wish to be privy to it.
Several other ISPs – Eircom, Meteor, Magnet, Sky and Imagine Telecommunications – had indicated in correspondence with the music companies they were prepared to block the websites voluntarily provided the court made a blocking order to that effect against any ISP.
Last June, the music companies secured similar orders in relation to the Pirate Bay websites after alleging it was causing them some €20m losses annually.
Yesterday, Mr Newman said the evidence was that subscribers to the defendant ISPs were using the KAT site to upload music and make it available to others for copying and other purposes.
His side had been unable to identify the operators of the KAT site and domain names and hosts had been changed a number of times and some of those were found to be false, he said.