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Nuacht & Imeachtaí

Minister Sherlock Welcomes European Court of Justice Decision

16th February 2012

The Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Sean Sherlock, welcomed today’s decision of the Court of Justice of the European Court in the Sabam v. Netlog case.

The Court ruled that an online social network cannot be obliged to install a general filtering system, covering all its users, in order to prevent the unlawful use – copyright infringement - of musical and audio-visual work.

“In effect, this decision applies the principles of the recent “Scarlet Case” to hosting service providers and the court reiterated that, in the context of measures adopted to protect copyright holders, national authorities and courts must strike a fair balance between the protection of copyright and the protection of the fundamental rights of individuals who are affected by such measures.

In this case, the court considered that the injunction sought would result in a serious infringement of the freedom of the hosting service provider to conduct its business since it would require that hosting service provider to install a complicated, costly, permanent computer system at its own expense, which would also be contrary to the requirement that measures to ensure the respect of intellectual-property rights should not be unnecessarily complicated or costly.

Moreover, in the court’s view, such an injunction could potentially undermine freedom of information, since the proposed filtering system sought might not distinguish adequately between unlawful content and lawful content, with the result that its introduction could lead to the blocking of lawful communications.

“I welcome today’s decision from the European Court of Justice. This will provide further clarity to Irish courts in adjudicating such matters”, he said.