The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against a ruling of the High Court quashing an enforcement notice issued by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) directing eircom to cease operating its “three strikes” policy The judgment is the latest development relating to attempts by a number of record companies (EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner) to protect their interests from internet piracy.
Concerned that implementation of a settlement between the record companies and eircom was unlawful, the DPC issued an enforcement notice to eircom. The settlement centered on eircom adopting a “three strikes policy” whereby an individual subscriber’s internet access could be temporarily suspended if he/she was thought to have infringed the intellectual property rights of any of the record companies on three separate occasions. A fourth suspected infringement would result in eircom withdrawing the individual’s internet service.
The High Court rejected the DPC’s claim that eircom was breaching data protection laws in its handling of subscribers’ IP addresses. It decided that there was no disclosure of personal data because the recording companies could not reasonably discover a customer’s identity through his IP addresses (view an article on the High Court judgment here). This finding has now been upheld by the Supreme Court.
This decision, in conjunction with the recent High Court decision ordering a number of ISPs to block access to the Pirate Bay website (view a previous article here), illustrates the ever growing significance of this issue in Ireland and the next instalment of this saga is eagerly awaited by all interested parties.