Irish High Court upholds new internet laws

May 2010


Ireland’s High Court has approved the terms of a settlement reached between the Irish music industry and the country’s leading internet service provider, Eircom, to address piracy on its networks.  Under the terms of the settlement between Eircom and the music industry group IRMA, the ISP agreed to implement a graduated response system to address illegal file-sharing.  Eircom would send warnings to infringing file-sharers with the possible sanction of account suspension for those ignoring the messages and continuing to infringe.  During its implementation, the settlement was referred back to the Court due to concerns raised by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner that the settlement could be incompatible with data protection laws.  in the case, EMI Records (Ireland) Ltd and others v Eircom Ltd [2010] IEHC 108 Mr Justice Charleton rejected these concerns and held that the implementation of the settlement is lawful and does not involve a breach of data protection law saying  “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.”  and “The internet is only a means of communication. 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.” Following the decision, IRMA and Eircom will now proceed with their graduated response to illegal filesharing which was agreed in February 2009.   The IFPI say that first step is an educational and awareness campaign.   Speaking after the decision, Dick Doyle, Director General of IRMA said: “We are very pleased with this decision today. Resolving this issue has caused six months of disruption to the IRMA/Eircom agreement. We will now proceed immediately to implement the full agreement.

The written judgment can be viewed at and see and the IPKat at

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