Last month, to maximise the potential of digital industry in Ireland, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., set up a Copyright Review Committee to identify any areas of Irish copyright legislation that might create barriers to innovation and to make recommendations to resolve any problems identified. The Committee consists of yours truly (TCD), Prof Steve Hedley (UCC), and Ms Patricia McGovern (DFMG Solicitors). Our review is similar to, but more limited than, Digital Opportunity, the review of intellectual property law and economic growth conducted by Prof Ian Hargreaves for the UK’s Intellectual Property Office. Rather than looking at the full range of intellectual property issues that Hargreaves did, our terms of reference have a much tighter focus on copyright and innovation; we have been asked to
- examine the present national copyright legislation (also here) and identify any areas that are perceived to create barriers to innovation,
- identify solutions for removing these barriers and make recommendations as to how these solutions might be implemented through changes to national legislation,
- examine the US style ‘fair use’ doctrine to see if it would be appropriate in an Irish/EU context, and
- if necessary, make recommendations for changes to EU Directives.
We have issued a call for submissions, the closing date for which is now 5:00pm on Thursday 14 July 2011. We are delighted with the response so far; but, as the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock T.D., highlighted this afternoon, we are particularly interested in receiving submissions from users of digital content and from start-up companies in the digital environment. Moreover, as Minister Sherlock also emphasised, we have to date
… received very little empirical evidence on the economic effects of copyright policy, and in particular on the economic effects of possible changes to existing copyright law. I think it is important that the Review Committee should receive more submissions setting out and/or building on such economic evidence.
We hope to publish a Consultation Paper and to invite further submissions on it, and to submit our final Report to the Minister before the end of the year.
As part of the current consultative phase of our work, there will be a public meeting about the Review at 8:30am on Monday 4 July 2011, in the Robert Emmet Lecture Theatre, Room 2037 Arts Block (map here), Trinity College Dublin. Attendance is free and open to anyone interested in the work of the Committee, but registration is necessary.
To make a submission, or to register for the public meeting, please email the Review.
Finally, please note that this Review is separate and distinct from the parallel consultation – in response to the decision of Charlton J in EMI Records v UPC  IEHC 377 (11 October 2010) – on amending the legislation to allow rights-holders to seek injunctions against intermediaries such as ISPs whose services are used by third-parties to infringe copyright.