The High Court in Dublin has given the green light to IRMA and Eircom's graduated response scheme.
The High Court has cleared the way for the Irish Recorded Music Association and Eircom to implement their graduated response to illegal filesharing, which was agreed in February 2009 but held up by a legal objection.
Agreeing with IRMA’s assertion that “an IP address refers solely to the network address of a computer and is not personal data when in IRMA’s possession”, Mr. Justice Charleton said in his ruling: “The right to be identified with and to reasonably exploit one’s own original creative endeavour I regard as a human right. It is completely within the legitimate standing of Eircom to act, and to be seen to act, as a body, which upholds the law and Constitution. That is what the Court expects of both individuals and companies.
“The internet is only a means of communication,” Justice Charleton continued. “It has not rewritten the legal rules of each nation through which it passes. It is not an amorphous extraterrestrial body with an entitlement to norms that run counter to the fundamental principles of human rights. There is nothing in the criminal or civil law which legalises that which is otherwise illegal simply because the transaction takes place over the internet.”
One of the first people to react to the ruling is U2 manager Paul McGuinness who comments: “This is a landmark decision. The judge’s emphatic and eloquent words will be reported around the world, and be welcomed by musicians, composers, filmmakers and actors everywhere.”
Echoing those sentiments, IRMA Chairman Willie Kavanagh adds: “The whole music industry, including performers, composers and record labels, has been decimated by illegal peer to peer traffic and our losses amount to over €60m per annum. Our industry has lost 40% in sales value between 2005 and 2009 with devastating effects on Artists and creativity. Today’s decision is the first step back towards allowing Artists to make a living again.”
IRMA and Eircom’s graduated response scheme will now proceed to what they term “the educational and awareness campaign” stage. The ultimate sanction of Eircom disconnecting illegal filesharers will only be taken after the issuing of three official warnings, and due process.
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