Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (334, 335, 336)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

334. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on whether the High Court order requiring UPC, Vodafone, O2, Imagine, Digiweb and 3 to block a website (details supplied) conflicts with the stated opinion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30353/13]

View answer

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

335. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation following the High Court order requiring UPC, Vodafone, O2, Imagine, Digiweb and 3 to block a website (details supplied), his views on whether Internet service providers need to install and operate technology such as deep packet inspection; if so, the safeguards that are in place to ensure that they are only used for the purpose defined by the court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30354/13]

View answer

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

336. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation following the High Court order requiring UPC, Vodafone, O2, Imagine, Digiweb and 3 to block the a website (details supplied) the process and the way in which websites or destinations can be added to this court order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30355/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 334 to 336, inclusive, together.

The written judgement in the case to which the Deputy's questions refer is not yet published so it would therefore be premature to give any view in relation to this judgement.

It is important however to clarify that the terms of Statutory Instrument, S.I. No 59 of 2012, provides only that there is legal clarity confirming the availability of injunctive relief by the Courts where copyright infringement is alleged. This S.I. would not of itself impact on, or be in any way contradictory with cases and judgements arising from that legislation.

In general, the situation in relation to online intermediaries and copyright infringement is that, in certain circumstances, intermediaries are protected from liability arising from their activities involving the hosting, caching of online content or, of acting as a mere conduit of such content. Furthermore, they may not be required to engage in general monitoring on their networks. Under EU Copyright law, as transposed into national law, the owner of copyright in a work may, in respect of that work, apply to the High Court for an injunction against the intermediary whose services are used by a third party to infringe that copyright.

The Court of Justice of the EU has given guidelines in relation to the granting of such injunctions and has stated that the protection of the fundamental right to property which includes copyright, must be balanced fairly against the protection of other fundamental rights, such as the right to conduct a business and the rights of individuals who may be affected by interference in their rights to protection of their personal data or their rights to freedom to receive or impart information.

The Court has pointed also to the need to consider circumstances in which the granting of an injunction could potentially lead to unnecessary cost such as the need to install systems to distinguish adequately between lawful and unlawful content with the result that its introduction could lead to the blocking of lawful communications and that the question of whether a transmission is lawful depends also on the application of statutory exceptions under copyright which vary from Member State to Member State.

Thus, the issues raised indicate the complexity of what is involved in such cases which extends also to those within the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources who has overall responsibility for electronic communications and internet policy in general.