Tuesday 24 April 2018

TV and film companies secure injunction blocking eight pirate websites from Irish ISPs

Stock picture
Stock picture

Tim Healy

A body representing some of the world's biggest TV and movie studios has secured an injunction blocking eight pirate websites involved in the downloading of films and television shows.

The injunction was granted at the Commercial Court on Monday Mr Justice Brian McGovern who said he was satisfied that the websites in question had engaged in widespread infringement of the studios' copyright.

There were "significant public interest grounds" to grant the orders sought, the Judge said.

The orders, under the 2000 Copyright and Related Act, were sought by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which represents Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney, Columbia and Sony Pictures.

Their proceedings were brought against Ireland's main Internet Service Providers (ISPs): Eircom, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.

None of the ISP's opposed the application.

The group had sought the orders on grounds including that up to 1.5m users in Ireland may be involved in illegally accessing their films on one of the websites.

The websites blocked include 'GoMovies' located at 123movieshub.to, 'Rarbg' located at rarbg.to, 'EZTV' located at extv.ag, and 'Watchfree' currently located gowatchfreemovies.to.

Some of the websites streamed movies via the internet and have been providing users with an extensive library of unauthorised copies of content.

The other websites distributed movies and films through the internet used via peer to peer file sharing.

Jonathan Newman SC, for the group, said its members represent 80 per cent of box office takings in Ireland and the UK in 2018.   

The sites had offered for viewing many movies and programmes which were the copyright of his client's members.

Counsel said the association was concerned because the sites had "very substantial numbers" of users in Ireland. Movies and programmes on one of the sites had been viewed between 1.5m and 1.3m times, counsel said.

Counsel said that those behind the websites had hidden anything to do with their identities or their physical location.

Correspondence was sent from the associations lawyers to the sites, via e mail, concerning the copyright infringements, but no responses had been received, counsel said. 

Counsel said similar orders have been granted by the Irish courts in relation to other sites that had been involved in such activities.

Counsel said such orders have proven to be effective in other jurisdictions and there was clear evidence the orders sought are "dissuasive, effective and proportional" in countering copyright infringement.

Mr Justice McGovern granted orders requiring the ISPs to block or disable access by subscribers to a number of  websites.

The Judge said there was a significant public interest in granting the orders.

This was to protect the livelihoods of those whose copyright was being infringed, and the safeguard the business of companies involved in the legitimate distribution of such material, the Judge added.

The MPA, in a statement, welcomed the judge's decision.

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