#CRC12 Paper: Chapter 7 – Users

#CRC12logosmallChapter 7 of the Copyright Review Committee‘s Consultation Paper considers whether the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 (also here) creates barriers to innovation by users (update: you can download a pdf of the Paper here (via DJEI) or here (from this site)). This is the longest chapter in the Paper, and it raises a great many issues.

Innovation is traditionally presented as a linear top-down process where innovation is the sole preserve of the producer, but it is increasingly an iterative and interactive one in which users play increasingly important roles. This is particularly so online, where technology is making it increasingly easier for users to innovate, and for that innovation to be based upon the transformation of existing content.

Chapter 4 had earlier considered the centrality of rights-holders in copyright law, but the law recognises other interests as well, and seeks to balance the interests of rights-holders in protecting their monopoly against other legitimate interests in diversity. In particular, by protecting only “original” works, by preventing only “substantial” infringements, and by providing a range of exceptions, copyright law accommodates interests other than those of rights-holders, such as those of users. One of the main questions for the Review is whether the copyright balance between rights-holders and users now requires further amendment, in particular to incentivise innovation.

On the one hand, if the exceptions are too broad, this could disincentivise rights-holders; on the other hand, if the exceptions are too narrow, this could stifle user innovation. One of the main exceptions provided by CRRA is a version of the traditional common law defence of “fair dealing” (see in particular, sections 5051, 221 and 329), and one of the issues canvassed in the Paper is whether the Act’s definition of “fair dealing” is too constraining.

Many of the submissions argued that the CRRA exceptions in are more grudging than they might be; and that all of the exceptions permitted by the European Union Copyright Directive should be made available as a matter of Irish law. The Paper therefore considers what such exceptions might look like in statutory language, including

  • Permitting reproductions for private use: such as on paper, by format-shifting, and back-ups
  • Providing for caricature, parody, pastiche, and satire, and for related non-commercial user-generated content
  • Adding “education” to the “teaching and research” exceptions
  • Making thorough provision for reproductions for persons with a disability, and
  • Strengthening the consumer protection provision of CRRA.

As always, the chapter ends with a series of questions which seem to the Committee to arise from the discussion in the chapter, and it is hoped that the next round of submissions will engage some of these questions (there are 86 questions in total, set out in Appendix 3 to the Paper, and the Committee would be delighted to receive responses to any of them. In particular, it is not necessary for any submission to seek to answer all of them). Any submissions should be received by close of business on Friday 13 April 2012 Thursday 31 May 2012. To make a submission, you can

There will also be a public meeting from 10:00am until 12:00 noon, on Saturday 24 March 2012, 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 register, you can

  • email or write to the Review, as above, or
  • complete the Committee’s online questionnaire and answer the last question by confirming that you wish to attend the meeting.