Bord Scannán na hEireann/Irish Film Board welcomes the news that members of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) welcomes news against three pirate websites

News

Bord Scannán na hEireann/Irish Film Board welcomes the news that members of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) welcomes news against three pirate websites

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) welcomes the news that members of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) have won an injunction against three pirate websites which are providing film and television content illegally to consumers in Ireland.                     

The landmark legal case, which was heard in the Commercial division of the High Court in Dublin, will block access to notorious pirate websites, make the streaming of movies and television programmes into people’s homes and devices safer, and protect jobs in Ireland’s thriving film industry.

Mr Justice Brian Cregan granted the injunction against the pirate websites.

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board, said of the news: "Irish film is currently enjoying great success both with local and international audiences.  The film industry has been thriving in Ireland over the last number of years, creating an increasing number of jobs for people working in Ireland and exports for Irish companies bringing inward investment into Ireland.

“Core to the success of this creative industry is that the revenue received from the delivery of the work to audiences is shared with the creators of that work.  Piracy prevents this happening and measures to eliminate piracy are a vitally important part of protecting the livelihoods of creative talent including Irish directors, writers, producers, cast and crew."

Stan McCoy, MPA EMEA President and Managing Director, welcomed the injunction which he said was designed to tackle piracy and safeguard the future of the film and television industry in Ireland and around the world.

“Ireland has a fantastic film industry which provides thousands of jobs and it is important that we protect it from corrupt operators who profit by stealing and selling content illegally. Piracy is a borderless issue with pirate site operators often hosting their websites overseas in an attempt to shield themselves from the law. That’s why the creative community worldwide must work together to solve it,” Mr McCoy said.

“The MPA works with local partners in markets all over the world to fight piracy, including Ireland. Stopping theft and creating space for ever more legal offerings will help to cement the future of Ireland’s thriving film sector. This ruling is the first step towards that.”

Investigations carried out for the legal action found the three target websites—Primewire, Watchseries and Movie4K domains—received respectively 1.26 million, 1.93 million and over 200,000 visits that emanated from Ireland in October 2016 alone*.

Piracy cost the Irish exchequer an estimated €71m** euro in 2015. Hundreds of jobs have been lost in the industry in recent years, including in the high-profile closures of Xtra-Vision and HMV.

At the same time, there has been a proliferation of choice for consumers, with plenty of legitimate sources to watch popular content like Sky, Volta.ie and Netflix.

David Burke, Chairman of the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, Ireland, said that it is vital consumers know where legal content is available so they can watch quality entertainment the way it was meant to be seen.

“Ireland has a talented and growing film Industry which employs some 18,000 people, from those in front of and behind the camera making films, to the cinema workers selling you popcorn and tickets, plus the many others making this all happen in between. It is vital that we all support this ongoing action to help protect those jobs and provide investment for the future.

“As an industry, we are continuously offering audiences more legitimate places to watch and enjoy creative content in a safe environment.

“The Irish Industry Trust is the film and television industry’s consumer education body promoting the value of copyright and creativity. Our website LOVEMOVIES.IE aims to provide information about the ongoing challenges of copyright infringement by inspiring audiences to value the work that goes into making and showing a film and choosing to watch films and TV via legitimate sources.”

The companies involved in this action included Warner Bros. Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Disney, Universal Studios and Sony/Columbia Pictures. They were supported by independent distributors and filmmakers in Ireland, including Element Pictures, and the Irish Film Board.

Andrew Lowe, of Element Pictures, said he supported the legal action to ensure consumers watch quality content produced by Irish and international filmmakers as it was created to be seen.

Dublin-based Element is a leading independent production and distribution film company whose award winning productions include Lenny Abrahamson’s Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning Room, The Lobster, winner of the Jury Prize in Cannes, the IFTA-winning Frank, What Richard Did, Garage, Adam & Paul, The Guard and The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

It also provides an online video demand platform, Volta.ie, which focuses on the best of Irish and international films, and runs and operates the independent Light House Cinema in Dublin.

Mr Lowe said: “Any cultural or artistic endeavour essentially hinges on a partnership between creators and their audience.  The success we have enjoyed in the Irish film industry on the domestic and international stages can only be sustained if this partnership is responsibly managed.  Piracy is a serious threat to this partnership.  It prevents creators from receiving a fair return on their work and limits choice for consumers.

“These websites, which act as illegal middlemen, steal with one hand and give freely with the other and ultimately drive a wedge between creators and their audience.

“This is not a victimless crime.  Allowing piracy to continue unchecked will inevitably lead to a sustained drop in the quality of available content created here, damage the Irish economy and result in the loss of more Irish jobs.

“As Chair of IBEC’s Audiovisual Federation, I know that there is widespread concern within the industry in Ireland at the fact that Irish consumers are able to access pirated content with impunity.  The Audiovisual Federation welcomes this action by the MPA and looks forward to working with all the key stakeholders in Ireland, including the Government, to ensure that there is a concerted effort to protect the Intellectual Property Rights that are so vital to sustain and grow the industry in Ireland.”

The legal action was designed to protect creativity and enforce copyright interests by requesting online intermediaries block three target websites which are making film and television content available to internet users in Ireland without the consent of the companies who create and distribute it.

Summonses were served on several ISPs EIR, Sky Subscribers Services, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.  Many of these ISPs are already working in co-operation with the MPA following similar action in the UK.

* Data supplied by Incopro Limited, a specialist company engaged by the Motion Potion Association for the purpose of gathering information in respect of digital infringement. 

** Figures on the cost of piracy from Grant Thornton: “Illicit Trade 2015-2016: Implications for the Irish economy”. http://www.grantthornton.ie/insights/publications/illicit-trade-2015-2016-implications-for-the-irish-economy/

For information on where legally sourced content can be viewed visit www.lovemovies.ie.