The approach taken by the Irish High Court when ordering various Irish Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the Pirate Bay website has been followed in principle by the English High Court in the context of access to sporting events.

The six biggest ISPs in the UK must now block access to FirstRow, a website that the Court found was infringing the copyright of the Premier League by streaming live coverage of Premier League matches and other sporting events.

FirstRow was shown to be a profitable site with substantial revenues from advertising due to the large number of visitors to the site. The transmission of the streamed matches was held to be a communication to the public that infringed the Premier League’s copyright. The fact that the ISPs had knowledge of the fact that FirstRow made such streams available to public allowed the Court to order the ISPs to block access to the site.

In the Pirate Bay case, the Irish High Court granted a similar order under the equivalent provision in Irish Law.

The trend of content owners protecting their rights online by seeking orders requiring ISPs to block access to websites which profit from infringing their copyright is gaining traction and, accordingly, it is likely that further cases will follow.