Copyright Report Proposes Major Overhaul of Irish Law

law-copyrightThe final report of the independent Copyright Review Committee has just been published.  The report is aimed at identifying barriers for innovation in the digital environment, and developing proposals for reducing them in order to provide greater support for growth and jobs in the digital industry.  The publication has been welcomed by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, together with the Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, as a key commitment in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs.

The full report, entitled “Modernising Copyright”, is available to download as a PDF. It was compiled by the Copyright Review Committee comprising Dr Eoin O’Dell of Trinity College (Chair), Professor Steve Hedley of University College Cork and Ms Patricia McGovern of DFMG Solicitors. The Committee was informed by an extensive consultation process undertaken by them to ensure that the full range of views of the copyright community was taken into account and the report is accompanied by a draft bill designed to give effect to its recommendations.

Minister Bruton and Minister Sherlock have proposed that the recommendations of the report will be carefully examined with other Departments and Agencies involved, with the intention of bringing forward legislative proposals for reform.

Minister Sherlock announced also the convening of a public forum on the 9th December at the Royal Irish Academy to allow the Committee to present its findings and the copyright community to probe these findings with members of the Committee.

At 179 pages, the report is a comprehensive document which builds on the work of the previous discussion paper issued by the committee and the hundreds of submissions which were made.  It includes the following “centrepiece” recommendations:

  • The establishment of a Copyright Council of Ireland, broadly based and with a board drawn widely from the Irish copyright community (including users).
  • Specialist intellectual property tracks in the District and Circuit Courts, and a “Controller of Intellectual Property”
  • The introduction of tightly-drawn exceptions for innovation, fair use, and very small snippets of text in the context of online links.  Linking itself will not be considered copyright infringement unless the link is knowingly made to a page which is itself infringing.

The position of rightsowners will be improved by:

  • Recommendations to extend remedies, technological protection measures, and rights management information
  • Furthermore, photographers in particular will benefit from the recommendation that copyright protection for metadata be strengthened.

The position of copyright users will also be improved, by:

  • Recommendations to introduce the full range of exceptions permitted by EU law, including format-shifting, parody, education, disability, and heritage
  • Related exceptions for non-commercial user-generated content and content mining
  • Copyright deposit libraries, in particular, will benefit from the recommendation that the existing legal copyright deposit provisions be extended to digital publications
  • Finally, all users will benefit from a comprehensive recommendation that any contract term which unfairly purports to restrict an exception permitted by the Act should be void.


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