Virgin told to implement three strikes in Ireland – but who pays?

August 2016




The Court of Appeal in Ireland has ruled that Ireland’s second largest internet service provider, Virgin Media, must take steps to deal with illegal music downloading, upholding a March 2015 High Court decision that required UPC (since taken over by Virgin) to set up a ‘three strikes’ regime whereby infringers of copyright are identified, warned and their service withdrawn if they do not desist. Subject to a minor variation, the High Court order in favour of Sony, Warner and Universal companies should apply, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said on behalf of the three-judge appeal court. That variation is that a five year review of the regime would not apply.


Virgin would be entitled to apply to the court again if there are fundamental changes in circumstances or other significant changes which may merit a change in the order, or even its discharge, the court said.
UPC/Virgin had appealed the High Court decision arguing, among other reasons, that because it (UPC) was not the infringer of the copyrighted music, the court had no jurisdiction to make the orders it had. For the appeals court, Mr Justice Hogan said the order was necessary and it satisfied the requirements of a 2001 EU directive on copyright. He also found the regime proposed by the High Court for the sharing of the capital costs of a software programme for detecting the illegal downloading was correct. Under this system, estimated to cost between €800,000 and €940,000 over eight years, UPC/Virgin is to pay 80 per cent of the costs while the music companies pay for the rest. UPC argued the music companies should pay three-quarters of it. However the appellate court also backed a proposal the number of notifications to downloaders should be limited to 2,500 per month.


A reference to the Court of Justice of the EU in relation to a number of questions raised by UPC/Virgi was refused.
But who pays the cost of blocking? A useful article by Eleonora Rosati here –

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