Monday, 9 May 2011

Ireland seeks radical copyright reforms

The three-person Committee decided it was time
to get to grips with the new digital technologies ...
According to a media release this morning, kindly forwarded by Samantha Holman (Executive Director, Irish Copyright Licensing Agency), Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton T.D. has commenced a process of reform of Ireland’s copyright regime, in an effort to maximise the potential of Ireland's digital industry. The politician says:
“I am determined that government will make whatever changes are necessary to allow innovative digital companies reach their full potential in Ireland. These companies make an enormous contribution to jobs and economic growth, and government must do everything it can to allow them to flourish and expand in Ireland.

Some companies have indicated that the current copyright legislation does not cater well for the digital environment and actually creates barriers to innovation and to the establishment of new business models [Depends whether the business model involves creating new work or using other people's, doesn't it?]. Moving towards a US-style “fair use” doctrine is one suggestion that has been made [My personal impression is that "fair use" has both advantages -- in terms of getting some good results -- and disadvantages in terms of encouraging more litigation because its outcome is less easy to predict].

I am determined to respond to these suggestions in a comprehensive and timely manner. It is not wise to make changes to this extremely complex area of legislation without first considering the issues in detail. [Now there's a thought!]

Therefore I have commenced a time-limited review of the law in the area to be conducted by three industry experts. The review will include a full consultation process with all relevant stakeholders, and the entire process will be complete within six months.

If they find that there are changes that can be made, within the confines of EU and other law in this area, which can enhance the environment for innovation by digital companies, I will move swiftly to act”.
The Review Committee will be chaired by Dr Eoin O’Dell of Trinity College, Dublin and will include Professor Steven Hedley of University College Cork and Patricia McGovern of DFMG Solicitors. Details of the review and the Terms of Reference are available here. Submissions to the Copyright Review Committee should be emailed here by close of business on Thursday 30 June 2011.

The choice of committee members is interesting. Two are academics, each of whom has an interest in restitution.  This leads me to wonder whether a restitution-based approach -- possible based on a pay-as-you-use basis in place of the traditional copyright monopoly (and in turn a bigger role for collecting societies) -- might be seriously considered.  The third is a seasoned and respected private practitioner who will, in the course of her career, have had the opportunity to advise both those who own rights and those who are anxious to minimise the risk of infringing the rights of others.  Conspicuously absent is anyone from a business currently operating in the digital environment.  This probably makes sense.  The panel of three will be obliged to listen closely to the many submissions from within the digital industries and from copyright owners and their representatives, but it is less certain that a panel drawn from the various industrial and rights-owning interests would have the time and the patience to listen to the still small voice of the academic.

1 comment:

John R walker said...

A fair number of people that I know have replaced their TV (when it died/ obsolete- non digital) with their Large screen Mac and then bought a new mac for the (tax deductible) home Office.

Jobs did predict a day when the TV would be replaced.