The High Court has approved new measures by the England Football Association to step up efforts to block pirates who illegally broadcast Premier League games in Ireland.
The FA Premier League (FAPL) company obtained its first blocking order here in July 2019 in an effort to tackle illegal streaming which the court had previously heard has become ubiquitous in the UK. Similar restraint orders have been obtained in the UK.
The order for Ireland was renewed last year for this season and today Judge David Barniville has granted a new order for the coming season.
The judge said these were broad provisions aimed at preventing further efforts by illegal streaming servers to circumvent previous orders.
The court heard that while there had been considerable success in disrupting illegal servers that hijack legitimate streaming services, a more aggressive order was needed because of how quickly the technology can be used to bypass them. orders.
The FAPL brought the action against the Internet service providers Eircom / Eir, Sky Ireland, Sky Subscriber Services, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone Ireland. All were in favor or neutral of the request, the court said.
Justice Barniville said the defendants are commonly referred to as “mere conduits” and have taken an extremely responsible attitude towards the request, as they had done before.
Significant changes were requested to the blocking orders put in place for the previous two seasons, he said. He was satisfied that their need had been fully addressed in evidence in court on behalf of the FAPL.
The thrust of this evidence was that any court order should be dynamic and able to adapt to technological change during the life of such an order, which lasts for one year, he said.
The critical problem was to ensure effectiveness, but if it was bypassed by those who operated illegal streaming services, it was ineffective, he said.
He was convinced that the changes requested by the FAPL were necessary to maintain the effectiveness of the ordinance and to provide the necessary dynamism to prevent circumvention.
He was also convinced that there were safeguards to prevent overblocking, which can mean legitimate streaming services are affected.
He was convinced that there were comprehensive measures to provide for emergency braking allowing legitimate service providers to temporarily stop blocking if they considered such a suspension to be reasonably necessary.
Earlier, Jonathan Newman SC, for FAPL, said that without the changes his client would be stuck with a static command when a dynamic response was needed. Technical means to prevent the circumvention of the order by hackers were identified in the confidential documents provided to the court.
Under previous orders, a very large number of illegal flows had been blocked, he said. There had been an increase in Sky viewers of people looking for legal streaming.
Polls for the FAPL have found that only 5% of people who use the illegal streams said they had not experienced any disruption caused by previous blocking orders, he said. The vast majority experienced disruption and unreliability minutes after the hackers were blocked, he said.
In a poll, around 78% said they had stopped watching because of the disruption.
The lawyer said there is simply no other way or methodology to tackle this problem.
The ordinance aims in particular to fight against the use of decoders that directly support a server, he said.
As part of previous orders, content delivered by illegitimate servers using streams from legal distribution points is targeted in real time to be disabled using the latest technological advances.