The Commercial Court has been told that three websites being accessed by people in Ireland are involved in massive copyright infringement of movie and TV content on an enormous scale.
The allegation was made during an application from a number of film and TV content producers to have eight internet service providers (ISPs) block the three websites because they are allegedly facilitating internet piracy.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern admitted the case being taken by six members of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) onto the court's list following a brief hearing this morning.
The content producers that are seeking the blocking order are Warner Bros. Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Disney, Universal Studios and Sony/Columbia Pictures.
Senior counsel Jonathan Newman for the studios said the case involved thousands of pieces of content owned by the plaintiffs and added that it was a matter of real importance.
The three websites at the centre of the allegations are movie4k.to, primewire.ag and onwatchseries.to.
The MPA alleges that research carried out on its behalf last year found that during October Primewire received 1.26 million visits emanating from Ireland, Watchseries 1.9 million and Movie4k 200,000.
The court heard that none of the ISPs were objecting to the case being admitted to the court for a determination, although a number do want to make submissions about how it should be handled.
The six ISPs are Eircom trading as Eir, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.
In 2013, a group of music companies successfully secured a similar court order compelling six ISPs to block access to a number of Pirate Bay websites, because they were facilitating illegal downloading.
During that case the court heard that 8% of Irish internet users or 200,000 people were using the websites each month, with serious negative consequences for the music, TV and film industries.
Eircom had already agreed to block the websites, so the order in that case applied to UPC, Vodafone, Digiweb, Imagine, Telefonica O2 Ireland, Hutchinson 3G Ltd.
Copyright laws in Ireland and in the EU allow the courts to put blocking orders in place in such circumstances where websites are facilitating the illegal downloading of protected material.
The current case will be back before the court on 28 February.