Tuesday, 8 December 2015
47. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the provisions she will put in place to protect the rights of artists and to provide them with adequate remuneration for the use of their copyrighted works. [43464/15]
In general, the law on copyright is a matter for the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. My Department is aware of the importance of protecting the rights of artists, including the issues of protection of intellectual property in the digital age. EU policy in this regard is also significant.
The issues of supporting artists, including with regard to copyright, has been an area of significant discussion during the public consultation phases of developing the proposed new national cultural policy, Culture 2025.I expect that these complex issues will be reflected in the final policy document.
My primary role is to support artists and the creative industries in Ireland using the mechanisms available to me and working across Government on common initiatives such as the Action Plan for Jobs. The Arts Council is the main mechanism through which the Government directs funding to the arts and to artists. In this regard, the Arts Council recently published its new strategy statement, Making Great Art Work. This sets out the Arts Council plans to lead the development of the arts in the decade to 2025 and prioritises two policy areas, the artist and public engagement.
The work of the Irish Film Board, which my Department funds, is also a significant support for creative workers in Ireland. This sector is also supported by the improved tax incentive system introduced by this Government. This year, as part of budget 2016, I was pleased to announce a 12% increase in allocations across a range of areas, including the Ireland 2016 centenary programme and a new investment programme for regional arts and cultural centres. There will be significant benefits accruing for artists and creative workers from many of the Ireland 2016 programmes supported by this additional funding, including at international level.
I was also particularly pleased that the Government introduced a 25% increase in the ceiling for the artists exemption from 2015. This important measure recognises the invaluable contribution which artists make to Irish society. The feedback available to me indicates that artists very much welcome the increase in the exemption limits. The scheme ensures Ireland continues to be a place where the work of artists is valued.
I note the Minister's comments that some of this might be addressed in the 2025 cultural policy, and I welcome that. The basic principle of copyright is that the creator shares in the economic return from their work and receives equitable remuneration for its use. Remuneration is considered to be equitable if it is proportional to the income earned by the work. Where this produces large quantities of small payments, collective management organisations manage the process. Most European countries consider this to be a good practice, but Ireland is unique. Does the Minister agree that many of our artists are still struggling and that we must ensure they get their fair share of remuneration?
The report of the independent copyright review committee appointed by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, entitled Modernising Copyright, was published in October 2013. The report contains in excess of 60 recommendations covering a diverse range of copyright issues. Following extensive analysis of the recommendations contained in the report, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is in the process of developing legislative proposals for consideration by the Government.
There is a progressive and evolving framework on copyright at EU and international levels. In the EU copyright context there are imminent proposals expected from the European Commission before the end of this year and a further set of proposals is expected in spring 2016. Officials from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation have been active in seeking to influence the development of EU proposals in the copyright area, for example, in the context of the Commission's digital Single Market strategy which was published on 5 May 2015.
Work is ongoing in this area. We will watch it closely and continue to work with other Departments on this matter.
The public lending right which provides writers with a small payment when their books are loaned in a public library was introduced by statutory instrument. Private copying levies, rental and lending rights and so forth are standard sources of income for creators and performers in most EU member states. Ireland is unique in adopting an approach of introducing such support schemes only, it appears, when forced to do so by EU directives and then in minimal form. The Minister said there are 60 recommendations in Modernising Copyright. Are any other schemes being explored? When might we see some of those recommendations being implemented?
The Deputy mentioned other schemes. In April 2014, the Irish Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors was awarded a grant from the Department's capital budget of €50,000 for the purpose of introducing a digital music system to be available to all Irish musicians and broadcasters. The association carried out considerable research and identified the digital media distribution system, or DMDS, as the most suitable. DMDS is a secure method of distributing audio and video material via the Internet. It can be used by industry professionals including broadcasters, musicians, music promoters, advertisers and post-production companies. The DMDS service supports functions such as the distribution of broadcast quality music, video and television advertising as well as music distribution to radio and industry professionals. The DMDS was launched in 2003. It works as a middleman between music labels and radio stations to deliver music and promotional information via e-mail.