Attorney General’s advice sought on ‘illegal downloads’ powers for judges

24 Feb 2011

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The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation has confirmed that the gap in Irish copyright laws governing illegal downloads and the role of internet service providers (ISPs) is “being considered carefully” and that the advice of the Attorney General has been sought.

In October, UPC was successful in a court case over the implementation of ‘three strikes’ rules against illegal downloaders which were sought by the music industry’s big four labels, EMI, Universal, Warner and Sony. The judge presiding the case, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, held that laws seeking to identify and disconnect copyright infringers was not enforceable in Ireland regardless of the record companies’ complaints.

Yesterday, Siliconrepublic.com reported that a statutory instrument was believed to have been rushed through the legislative process and was due to be signed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Mary Hanafin TD. The statutory instrument – understood to be in the hands of the parliamentary draftsman – would have amended the existing Copyright Act and given judges the power to grant injunctions against ISPs.

Siliconrepublic.com asked the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if a statutory instrument granting judges the power to grant injunctions in copyright cases arising from the three strikes case was being hurried through without political debate.

In reply, the department that neither confirmed or denied a statutory instrument was being pushed through said: “The situation is that in the wake of the High Court judgment in EMI Records (Ireland) Ltd and others v UPC Communications Ireland Ltd, the very serious question as to whether Ireland is fully in compliance with its obligations under European law is being considered carefully by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.”

Advice of Attorney General sought

“The advice of the Attorney General was sought and on foot of this, consultations are in train with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

“It may be necessary for the avoidance of doubt, to introduce measures clarifying Ireland’s position under the Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC) in relation to injunctions.

“In relation to the general question of intermediary liability, the consultation on the EU Commission Report on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (Enforcement Directive – 2004/48/EC) may be of interest.

“Likely interested parties have been informed of this consultation,” the department said.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com