Following on from our previous related blogs last year: Music Body Asks BT to Block User Access to Pirate Bay Site; Controversial Draft Copyright Legislation Published - It's No "SOPA" and ISPs Remain Target for Blocking Orders in UK Courts, the European Union (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2012 were signed into law in March 2012 (the Regulations). These Regulations provide that copyright owners may seek injunctions against internet intermediaries, including ISPs. Effectively, the Regulations have passed the role of defining the limits of Irish copyright law to the Courts.
On a related note, the High Court in the UK has ordered the chief ISPs to block three websites - Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy - that link to pirated material. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said that there is "significant" infringement arising from these sites, although opponents have argued that this type of blocking is ineffective.
This block follows a similar ruling made last year regarding The Pirate Bay, a large Swedish site. While data suggests that the blocking of Pirate Bay was only effective on a short-term basis in terms of pirate activity online, a recent report from market research firm NPD suggested that there had in fact been a big reduction in the number of users illegally downloading music, who are instead opting to use legal options such as streaming site Spotify.
The BPI has welcomed the decision to block piracy sites, saying that blocking illegal sites helps guarantee that the legal digital market can grow and labels can continue to sign and develop new talent. Conversely, the leader of Pirate Bay UK, a site which offered users a workaround for the Pirate Bay Ban, said the BPI was "out of control", claiming that the music industry had no positive results to show from such blocking.
It remains to be seen whether Irish courts will follow suit and whether the scope of the Regulations would permit such blocking orders.