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'Big Four' lose filesharing case against Irish ISP

UPC throws 'three strikes' hot potato at 'native industry'

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A major ISP in Ireland has won a landmark illegal music downloads case against the ‘Big Four’ record labels today.

UPC defeated Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony BMG and EMI Records in Dublin’s High Court, which decided that a “three strikes and you’re out” ruling could not be enforced in Ireland.

The record companies had been pushing for the rule to cut off alleged piracy by many of UPC’s customers in the country.

"This not only undermines their [record labels'] business but ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living. It is destructive of an important native industry," said Mr Justice Peter Charleton, reports the Irish Times.

Despite that, the judge said that Ireland’s current legislation didn’t comply with European law, meaning that the “three strikes” rule could not be applied in the UPC case.

Furthermore, the High Court’s decision could yet have ramifications with an out-of-court deal settled by record companies and Ireland’s ISP giant Eircom in 2009.

In March last year a coalition of Irish ISPs hit out at the Big Four’s efforts to force a French-style “three strikes” disconnection policy on all of Ireland’s major internet providers.

"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," said the company.

"Our whole premise and defence focused on the mere conduit principal which provides that an internet service provider cannot be held liable for content transmitted across its network and today’s decision supports the principal that ISPs are not liable for the actions of internet subscribers." ®

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