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Film rental giants suffer as internet pirates on crest of wave

The top five most pirated movies in 2010 according to the film industry were:

1. Avatar

2. Kick-Ass

3. Inception

4. Shutter Island

5. Iron Man 2

THE music and film industry is continuing to be exploited by internet pirates and the lenient copyright laws that facilitate them.

Rental giant Xtra-vison says it is still falling victim to the seemingly untameable phenomenon of online piracy.

The increasing number of people downloading illegally means the company, which has 185 stores nationwide, has had its profits hit. Chairman and CEO of Xtra-vison, Peter O'Grady Walsh, said internet piracy was having a massive effect on the business and that a strong take was needed over the holiday period in order to ensure the ongoing viability of the company.

"Currently we are not operating at a profit but we are expecting that the holiday period will result in annual profits," he said.

"We're seeing a trend develop that in big urban areas such as Dublin, where there is high broadband speed, our business is being affected. In rural areas, we are not encountering the same problems.

"Our research shows that 22 per cent of adults have downloaded a movie illegally. Worryingly, most of them don't consider it a crime but it is," he added.

In a landmark case involving internet provider UPC and EMI Records earlier this year, Mr Justice Peter Charleton ruled that there was no basis under Irish law to disconnect persistent file sharers, despite his acknowledgment that it was having a crippling effect on the industry.

A spokesperson for UPC told the Sunday Independent that the company took a strong stance against piracy.

"UPC has repeatedly stressed that it does not condone piracy and has always taken a strong stance against illegal activity on its network.

"It takes all steps required by the law to combat specific infringements which are brought to its attention and will continue to co-operate with rights holders where they have obtained the necessary court orders for alleged copyright infringements."

She added: "That said, the company has reiterated that it will continue to work with key stakeholders with a view to identifying and addressing the main areas of concern of all relevant parties in the filesharing debate."

Eircom introduced a 'three strikes and your out' policy as part of a settlement on foot of a legal challenge taken against it. Customers who continue to download illegally after two warning letters will be disconnected. However, so far Eircom has not disconnected any customers.

Sunday Independent