Hollywood takes nine Irish ISPs to court over 1.3m illegal downloaders

7 Feb 2017

Image: Lolostock/Shutterstock

Hollywood is taking nine Irish ISPs to court in a bid to block access to websites offering illegal download content to an estimated 1.3m people in Ireland.

Illegal downloading and torrenting is nothing new to the TV and film industry, which has waged an arduous campaign against both internet service providers (ISPs) and the downloaders since the beginning of the age of Napster in the early 2000s.

Despite the rise of paid subscription services such as Netflix offering hope that illegal downloads would wane, many people are either downloading content from torrenting websites, or streaming through devices such as Android boxes.

According to The Irish Times, six of the US’s largest film studios represented by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) have begun legal proceedings in the Irish Commercial Court, claiming that as many as 1.3m people in Ireland are accessing content illegally.

However, rather than targeting the people directly, the studios will be taking Ireland’s nine largest ISPs to court in an attempt to force them to block particular websites that offer free content.

Among those named in the legal documents are Virgin Media Ireland, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Three Ireland (two different divisions), Eir, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.

Similar legal battles have already occurred in other countries with reasonable success, and the MPA members will be hoping to replicate that in Ireland.

Claims 500 jobs lost in Ireland

Assessing the damage, the association that represents companies such as Warner Bros Entertainment, Disney Enterprises and Sony Pictures Television claims digital piracy eliminated 500 jobs in Ireland in 2015.

In addition, the State has lost potential revenues of €320m.

The studios have identified three websites in particular that they said should either be cut off entirely to customers, or disabled.

These websites include: PrimeWire.ag, onwatchseries.to and Movie4k.to.

The court documents filed by Jonathan Newman SC state that the existence of these sites seriously threatens the future of his clients’ ability to produce content.

Newman stated that the claim was filed in August of last year, but the ISPs said that they did not have much time to draft a proposed response to the studios.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic