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Three popular illegal streaming sites have been blocked by Irish courts

Irish internet providers will now have to block Movie4k.to, primewire.ag and onwatchseries.to

Image: Shutterstock/Georgejmclittle

SIX MAJOR FILM and TV studios have secured a High Court injunction directing internet service providers (ISPs) to block websites involved in the illegal downloading of films and television shows.

Justice Brian Cregan said he was satisfied to make the orders against several internet service providers because “it was clear from the evidence” before the court that breaches of the studio’s copyright had “manifestly occurred”.

Justice Cregan granted orders requiring the ISPs to block or disable access by subscribers to a number of  websites, known as “streaming” websites including movie4k.to, primewire.ag and the website currently located at onwatchseries.to

The orders would not amount to a breach of the lawful use of the internet nor were they disproportional, the judge added.

Their proceedings were brought against: Eircom, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks. Summonses have been served to all these companies.

Access disabled

None had opposed the application and the court heard that they had adopted a neutral stance to the orders sought.

The studios, all members of the Motion Picture Association had sought the orders on grounds including that up to 1.3 million users here may be involved in illegally accessing their films via various websites.

Represented by Jonathan Newman SC, the companies argued digital piracy is costing the studios hundreds of millions annually and, according to recent research, lead to the loss of 500 jobs here in 2015 and €320m in lost revenues, they claimed.

The plaintiff studios are Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Disney Enterprises, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures Television and Columbia Pictures and their case is supported by independent distributors and filmmakers in Ireland.

There were no opposition to the orders, and the court was told that all the ISP were taking a neutral stance to the movie companies application.

However the court was asked to deal with issues raised by Eir. The company, which said it was prepared to pay the cost involved in dealing with the websites involve to date, expressed concerns about the costs of dealing with such sites or domain names in the future.

Blocked

It was concerned about the cost implications if it had to deal with a large number of these sites. It asked the court to put a cap on the number of notifications per month the movie companies could issue directing it to block certain websites involved in illegal downloading.

Conor McDonnell, solicitor for Eir said his client was suggesting a cap of perhaps 50 notifications per month. The movie companies said they were opposed to any cap.

Justice Cregan said there should be no cap on the amount of notifications for the time being.

The judge, who noted that there was a lack of evidence from any party as to how many notifications might be needed over a given period, said that he was persuaded by the argument  that any cap might not be effective or dissuasive.

The judge, who also welcomed that Eir and the movie studios had resolved another outstanding issue in relation to the temporary blocking of certain websites, also ruled that no costs order should be made in the case.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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