In the most significant Irish copyright decision of the year, the Commercial Court granted an injunction against an Internet service provider ("ISP") to adopt a graduated response scheme ("GRS").
In March 2015, Mr Justice Cregan held that an Irish Court could grant an injunction imposing a GRS against an innocent intermediary to prevent copyright infringement under Article 8(3) of the Copyright in the Information Society Directive (2001/29/EC). The action was brought by music companies Sony, Warner and Universal against one of Ireland’s largest internet service providers UPC - now Virgin Media.
The Court held that the injunction, which ordered UPC to engage with its subscribers by issuing letters following complaints from rightsholders on a systematic basis, was “fair and equitable”. It was also found to comply with the requirements for injunctions under various EU Directives including requirements that it not be “unnecessarily complicated or costly” and must be effective, proportionate and inhibitive.
While the terms of the injunction are not as stringent as those initially sought by the music companies, this is a significant development in copyright law as it represents the first court ordered GRS to be imposed in Europe or indeed further afield. The order anticipates the building of a system over a period of 12 to 18 months at a significant capital expenditure of the part of UPC.
The matter is currently on appeal to the Court of Appeal and an appeal hearing is expected to commence in the first half of 2016.