‘ISPs not judge and jury for copyright infringements’ – UPC

19 Nov 2010

UPC re-enforced its belief that internet service providers (ISPs) such as itself should not be made into “judge and jury” if a customer infringes copyright online.

Speaking at a seminar hosted at Google’s Irish HQ and moderated by the chairman of Digital Rights Ireland, Kate Sullivan of UPC spoke of how she believed ISPs were unfairly put in the centre of the conflict between file sharers and music rights holders.

“We’re increasingly finding ourselves in the middle of competing rights and competing demands where we’re being called upon to be judge and jury in terms of making calls as to where the balance is in those rights,” said Sullivan.

“Most ISPs, and certainly UPC, is of the position that we don’t feel it’s appropriate for a private body such as ourselves to be judge and jury for such calls.”

UPC had previously been caught up in a legal battle against many of the world’s biggest music labels, where they tried to make UPC take on a “three-strikes policy” against illegal file sharers. UPC won the case, as Ireland does not have the laws in place to prevent file sharing.

Sullivan said the primary responsibility to take on copyright infringement lies with the rights holders and they can call on the ISP to aid them.

Sullivan said the ISP can be notified by the rights holder if copyright has been infringed. If that has been done, the ISP has an obligation to take it down.

She also noted that ISPs can give the rights holder the IP address of a person who infringes on their copyright, however, only if done through a court order.

Ireland is not alone in the confusion over this issue, and Sullivan has called for an EU mandate clarifying it.

“Legislative framework is required so as to ensure that the rights of all stakeholders are appropriately balanced and that there is no exposure to any one particular party,” said Sullivan.