The Commercial Court (a division of the Irish High Court) recently extended a Court Order compelling certain Irish internet service providers (ISPs) to block the illegal live streams of a particular sporting competition for the remainder of the 2019/2020 season which (like all sporting events) was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the 2020/2021 season.
What was the original Order?
In June 2019, the High Court granted an Order compelling ISPs to block access during matches to streaming servers which delivered illegal live streams of a particular sporting competition (2019 Order). This was a landmark decision as it was the first blocking injunction granted by the Irish Court which targeted streaming servers rather than websites or end users. The practical effect of the Order was that unauthorised live streams could be blocked in real time regardless of whether the user was attempting to watch the stream on an unauthorised IPTV service, website, app or other device.
Last month, the Commercial Court granted an extension of the 2019 Order to include the remainder of the 2019/2020 season and for the 2020/2021 season.
What are the criteria to grant the injunction?
In order to grant a blocking injunction under Irish copyright legislation, the High Court had to satisfy itself that:
- the injunction was necessary;
- the costs involved were not excessive or disproportionate and that the order itself should not be unduly complicated;
- the cost sharing proposals were fair and reasonable;
- the order respected the fundamental rights of the parties affected, including internet users; and
- the duration of the proposed injunction and the provisions for review were reasonable.
The Court noted that an extension of the 2019 Order must involve a review of the effectiveness of the Order and a consideration as to whether an extension was appropriate. It stated that effectiveness does not require 100% success so long as the remedy has a significant persuasive effect. Upon reviewing the evidence, the Court was satisfied that the 2019 Order was effective and that there was no evidence of "over-blocking". Accordingly, it stated that the 2019 Order should be extended and accepted that it was necessary to protect the Plaintiff’s copyright.
How will this judgment impact the sports industry in Ireland?
The judgment will be welcome news to those in the sports industry in Ireland as well as all IP owners as it shows that live blocking injunctions are invaluable tools for IP owners in the defence and protection of their IP rights.