Dáil debates

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages


1:15 pm

Photo of James LawlessJames Lawless (Kildare North, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 1:

In page 41, after line 9, to insert the following:

Digital legal deposit scheme

106. Within twelve months of the enactment of this Bill the Government shall bring forward a report on the feasibility of establishing a digital legal deposit scheme to serve as a web archive for .ie domain contents and advise on steps taken towards that goal.".

We welcome the Bill in the main and welcome its progress to Report Stage. The amendment seeks to provide for the establishment of a digital archive for Irish Internet content. We already have archives for print media, journals, newspapers and proceedings of this House and many other types of content in the National Library, National Archives and many universities. We do not, however, have a digital archive for Internet content. This content is an important part of our collective memory and culture and a reflection of society at a point in time. It is also an important historical artefact and would normally form a part of copyright libraries, like the printed word, but we have not yet made provisions to move to the Internet world. There have been some moves by the private sector to address this, for example, Twitter has collaborated with the United States Congress to create a library of all tweets ever sent. Google has an archive of many books and pages and used to maintain a web cache although that is no longer available.

As a sovereign State we should take responsibility for our own Internet content and safeguard it for future generations, archivists and historians to study. Eminent people in the area such as Dr. Eoin O'Dell in Trinity College Dublin and his team have the wherewithal and know-how to do this and are happy to begin cataloguing such an archive. However, they need to be permitted by law to do so. They need the digital sphere to be included in the copyright domain in the way that other media are.

I moved a similar amendment on Committee Stage and I acknowledge the feedback of the Minister of State and the assistance of officials at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, particularly Ms Grainne O'Carroll, who is responsible for copyright and intellectual property services. Ms O'Carroll was very helpful in framing the amendment and making some tweaks to it. I understand there were some reservations about its immediate adoption and it has been decided that the amendment will call on the Government to report within 12 months on the feasibility of establishing such a scheme and progress made on doing so. It is an important step and I hope it will find support in the House.

Photo of Maurice QuinlivanMaurice Quinlivan (Limerick City, Sinn Fein)
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I thank the Minister of State for the help the Department has given us on the Bill, especially with amendments we tabled. As the legislation is detailed and technical, I will keep my contribution short. We have already discussed the provisions of this Bill extensively on Second and Committee Stages. We need a strategy that enables creators to live from their work while ensuring a user's right to access creative content is protected. We need an alliance of creators' and users' rights that supports freedom of access and use while, at the same time, valuing creative work. I welcome the provisions of the Bill which will give access to the lower courts for intellectual property claims. This will be of particular benefit to rights holders who are pursuing infringement actions. I also particularly welcome those provisions that are designed to provide for the greater availability of suitably modified versions of copyrighted works for use by persons with a disability.

I will support Deputy Lawless's amendment relating to the digital legal deposit scheme in place of the amendment the Deputy and I introduced on Committee Stage. Just this morning the copyright directive going through the European Parliament was voted back to plenary session. What effect will this directive have on this domestic copyright legislation? Will this legislation need to be revisited and, if so, would it not make more sense to wait for the European legislation to conclude?

I thank the Library and Research Service for the great information it provides on technical Bills such as this, which is very useful and helpful. Sinn Féin will support the Bill and Deputy Lawless's amendment.

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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I thank Deputy Lawless for the amendment and Deputy Quinlivan for supporting it. We had a good discussion on "capturing the web" on Committee Stage. I thank the Deputies for their engagement on the issue. I understand the desire to capture the web for preservation purposes, however, that would be a significant national project and is not simply a matter of amending copyright legislation, as I have discussed. Aside from the technical amendment to the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, there are other issues that must be scrutinised when considering the development of any legislative changes. We spoke about these on Committee Stage and they include matters regarding governance, consideration of public interest and the potential impact on the rights holders. The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, not my Department, has responsibility for policy in that area. The two Departments have been working together on this and will continue to do so. I am sure both Deputies and all in this House will support the necessary due diligence being undertaken as part of the development in this area. I am happy to accept the amendment because I see the proposal as a pragmatic way to advance the project while allowing time for the necessary work to take place.

2 o’clock

I reassure the House that both Departments involved in this matter are actively engaged on the proposal and that the report will be prepared as specified in the amendment.

Regarding the Deputy's question on the European Commission, in September 2016, the European Commission presented a legislative package for the modernisation of the EU copyright rules, which included a proposed directive on copyright in the digital Single Market. I would highlight that the general scheme of the copyright Bill was approved by the Government in July 2016 prior to the publication of the proposed EU copyright directive. The final consolidated text of the directive was published on 17 May and the Bulgarian Presidency received a mandate to commence negotiations with the European Parliament. Ireland's current copyright legislation amendment contained in the Bill will not in any way in conflict with anything contained in the proposed directive. That might answer the Deputy's question.

My Department will make any necessary legislative amendments based on all the discussions we had in committee and the proposals put forward once the directive is finalised and in line with obligations regarding to the transposition of EU directives into national law. The European Parliament plenary session rejected amendments this morning and will debate many of the hundreds of amendments in September. This vote only happened this morning but Irish officials in Dublin and Brussels will continue to work to achieve a good outcome at European level.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill, as amended, received for final consideration and passed.