I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
Good copyright legislation is essential for the health of the modern Irish economy. This form of intellectual property law is, perhaps, most usually thought of as applying to books and other literary forms. In reality, it is the primary means of legal protection for a wide range of works. Musical, dramatic and artistic works are covered by copyright, as is computer software, which is included in the category of literary works for copyright purposes. Films are also protected by copyright as are photographs. In addition to works protected by primary copyrights, important economic interests are protected by secondary copyrights, most notably sound recordings, which includes the recorded music industry. In recent years, new forms of protection have been developed out of copyright. These include specific protections for the rights of performers and rights in databases.
This simple listing of the scope of copyright protection should be enough to show the importance of a fully functional copyright and related rights law for the functioning of any modern economy. Unfortunately, this importance is not really reflected in current Irish legislation. The last comprehensive reform of Irish copyright law was the Copyright Act, 1963. This Act was itself heavily based on the United Kingdom Copyright Act, 1956. When we consider the extraordinary development of the means for the creation, storage and transmission of copyright works in the period since then, it is obvious that this situation must be unsatisfactory. There have been some reforms, most importantly, in the Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1998. It remains true, however, that Ireland has arrived at the end of the 20th century with a copyright law drafted in an age when computers occupied whole buildings, telecommunications were still substantially based on manual switching and, when it came to filing and record-keeping, no alternative existed to papers files and the card index. The home video recorder had yet to reach our shores and even effective photocopying was a thing of the future. It is clearly a time to ready Irish copyright law for the new millennium.
This Bill represents, perhaps, the most significant milestone yet in a programme of intellectual property law reform in which, to their credit, successive recent Governments and bodies of legislators have tackled the mammoth task of modernising this area of our law. This started with the Patents Act, 1992, and continued with the enactment of the Trade Marks Act, 1996. The Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1998, brought about badly needed improvements to the Copyright Act, 1963, in relation to remedies for copyright rightsholders for infringement of copyright and, in the criminal sphere, for penalties on conviction for copyright offences. The final stage in this programme will be a new Bill providing for the protection of industrial designs. This Bill, which I intend to bring before the House next year, will replace legislation which, after all this time, is still based on the Industrial and Commercial Property (Protection) Act, 1927.
Ireland is well along the road to having in place a modern, effective, efficient regime of protection for intellectual property rights in general, one with which we may meet, with confidence, the challenges of the new millennium. The Government is solidly committed to ensuring the neglect of former years will not be repeated and that the expertise and resources required to maintain our intellectual property laws in good order will be provided.
One aspect of our copyright reform programme that has been the subject of some comment is its relation to Ireland's obligations under European Community and international copyright law. Current Irish copyright law has been the subject of complaint from our European partners and from our international trading partners in general, on the basis that Ireland has failed to take on board a number of promised copyright reforms required by European and international law in due time. The obligations concerned include those contained in a number of European directives as well as international commitments entered into under the Berne Convention on the Protection of Artistic Works and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or the TRIPs Agreement. It has been suggested we are only bringing forward this long needed reform now as a result of international pressure. I wish to make clear that neither the Government nor its recent predecessors should make any excuse for the inaction on copyright reform over many years. This was inexcusable. It must, however, be recognised that there has been a great quickening of interest in intellectual property law in the last decade. This development was in line with increasingly rapid changes in the information economy in that period. It is entirely to the credit of successive Irish Governments and bodies of legislators in that period that they have done their level best within the limited resources available to respond to this. The establishment in 1992 of the intellectual property unit in my Department and the record of legislation, which I mentioned, clearly indicate the seriousness with which Ireland now views intellectual property matters.
As the House will be aware, my Department has committed considerable time and effort to bringing forward a comprehensive programme of copyright reform, culminating in the Bill we are discussing here today. This Bill has resulted from extensive consultation between my Department and various copyright interests leading up to and following from the publication of the draft Copyright Bill in July of last year. This Bill sets out a modern and efficient copyright system at home and facilitates compliance with our obligations to our trading partners abroad. Ireland has no reservations about the need for strong international copyright protection in a world of communi cations without borders. This commitment is one of the foundations of this Bill. The House will no doubt be aware that the Bill has been welcomed by our European and international trading partners as well as the major copyright based industries. This suggests that the time taken to prepare the legislation was well spent.
The principal objectives of the Bill may be summarised in four points: to put in place a modern, effective, efficient and technology neutral regime of statutory protection for copyright and related rights, including provision for civil remedies and criminal penalties fully sufficient to deter copyright theft, bearing in mind the economic and cultural consequences of such theft for the information society; to transpose into Irish law a number of EU directives in the field of copyright and related rights; to bring Irish law into conformity with all obligations incurred under international law on copyright and related rights, including the Berne Convention, the Rome Convention, the TRIPs Agreement, the World Intellectual Property Organisation Copyright Treaty, and Performances and Phonograms Treaty; and to provide, for the first time in Irish law, for tailor made regimes of civil protection for performers' rights, rights in performances and non-original databases in line with the best EU and international standards. Having prepared the text of the Bill with the greatest care, the Government is satisfied it will achieve these ambitious objectives.
Part 1, on the preliminary and general, deals with certain technical and incidental issues, including interpretation of terms and the power of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to make orders and regulations under the proposed legislation. Part II, on copyright, deals with the substantive provisions on copyright, including the traditional neighbouring rights of copyright in sound recordings, broadcasts, cable programmes and typographical arrangements of published editions of works. The main subjects addressed are the nature of copyright works and works in which copyright may be held to subsist; authorship of copyright works and the duration of copyright protection in the various classes of copyright work; the rights of a copyright owner in relation to a work, including the exclusive right to authorise the copying or reproduction and making available to the public or adaptation of the work subject to the provisions of this legislation; primary and second infringement of copyright; and the various exceptions to be provided for derogating from the absolute rights of the copyright owner in certain limited specific cases. These are, principally, the "fair dealing" exceptions in favour of research and private study, criticism and review of works and incidental inclusion of copyright material in another work. There are also limited exceptions in favour of educational and library and archival use as well as certain uses in public administration. This Part of the Bill also includes provision for moral rights; provisions governing deal ings in copyright interests, including assignment and licensing; and remedies for infringement of copyright interests and criminal offences and penalties in the area of copyright and related technical issues as well as a range of technical, incidental and subsidiary issues associated with copyright proper.
Exceptions to copyrights and to related rights are legislative provisions which allow activities that would normally be regarded as restricted by copyright protection to be carried out without such restriction or the payment of copyright royalties in very particular circumstances. Exceptions may be of a substantive, policy nature or may be technical. Technical exceptions deal with such matters as incidental inclusion of copyright materials in other works. An example of incidental inclusion would be where a film is being made on Grafton Street and music can be heard being played from a record shop. In such a case, where there is no deliberate act on the part of the film maker to include that music in his or her film, the music is properly regarded as incidental in the film. Its inclusion does not give rise to any requirement on the part of the film maker to pay copyright royalties. This Bill contains a number of exceptions, technical and substantive, in relation to copyright and, in parallel, in relation to performers' rights, rights in performances and to the database right.
The Government is convinced of the need for a specific range of exceptions. They are required for technical reasons, and as a small but important element in the process of balancing the interests of rightsholders with those of the users of protected materials. Exceptions must, however, remain strictly limited, principally for two reasons. Copyright and copyright royalties are not like taxes. They cannot lawfully be imposed or remitted by Government at will. They are property rights in much the same way as rights in the ownership of other classes of property and their status as such under Bunreacht na hÉireann has been recognised by the courts. Exceptions must remain very limited as Ireland's obligations under EU and international law place strict constraints on the scope for exceptions. Exceptions must be specific and limited and they must not interfere with the normal exploitation of copyright works. These restrictions severely limit Ireland's scope for enacting new exceptions or for broadening the exceptions already in existence under the Copyright Act, 1963. Discussions are ongoing in Brussels on a proposal for a new directive on copyright and related rights in the information society.
Following Commission consideration of amendments proposed by the European Parliament, the text being considered would restrict copyright exceptions in the Community to a narrow, closed list. Ireland would be far from agreeing with the extremely restricted scope for exceptions to copyright allowed by the text now under discussion. However, the Government feels the general principle of strictly limited exceptions emerging from the negotiations to date needs to be borne in mind in our current legislative endeavour. For these reasons, the free disposal by law of copyright and related rights interests through the expansion of the scope or range of exceptions is not an option under the Constitution or under EU or international law. For this reason, the Government rejects any suggestion that the exceptions proposed in the Bill as it stands be expanded.
Part III on rights in performances provides for a regime of rights, exceptions and sanctions in respect of performers' rights and rights in performances. This is broadly parallel to those provided for in relation to copyright by Part II. The rights protected under this Part may broadly be described as the exclusive right of a performer to authorise the copying or making available to the public of his or her performance and recording rights. Recording rights involve the rights of persons who have exclusive recording contracts with performers, such as record producers, to protection from illicit recording. Part III represents the introduction into Irish law for the first time of a comprehensive regime of protection for this type of right. This includes direct legal protection for performers and producers against illicit direct recording of live performances, that is, what is often described as bootlegging.
Part IV on performers' moral rights provides for a regime of moral rights protection for performers in relation to their performances which is parallel to that provided for authors of copyright works under Part II. Performers' moral rights are afforded a separate Part because they apply to performers' rights only. The concept of moral rights is not applicable to recording rights. Consequently, the incorporation of performers' moral rights in Part III could have posed serious technical drafting problems.
Part V on databases provides for a new regime of protection for non-original databases as required by the EU database directive. Non-original databases are databases the creation of which does not involve significant intellectually creative input. Examples are simple alphabetical lists, such as telephone directories. These would have been protected up to now under Irish law by copyright as literary works. However, the database directive requires that a higher standard of originality be applied to databases if they are to qualify for full copyright protection. This Part will provide a more limited form of protection for databases no longer meeting the copyright originality standard in line with the rules set out in the database directive.
Part VI on the jurisdiction of the controller makes provision for and expands the role of the controller of patents, designs and trade marks as a tribunal for the resolution of certain disputes regarding copyright licensing schemes. Part VII on technological protection measures provides copyright rightsholders with rights and remedies against persons who unlawfully circumvent tech nological measures designed to protect certain copyright materials. An example of this would be producing counterfeit smart cards for tapping into encrypted satellite broadcasts and cable programmes. Another example is the removal of identifying rights management features, such as digital fingerprints and other electronic markers, from copyright materials.
Mention of technological protection measures prompts the question of whether the Bill contains measures specifically designed to address the challenges posed by the information society, such as the Internet. The Bill is designed in so far as possible to be technology neutral. It is drafted to accommodate the demands of the information age in the copyright field in a flexible and adaptable way.
Apart from the provisions relating to technological protection measures, some specific provisions are worth noting. For example, the Bill generally replaces the concept of publication of a work with that of making available to the public. This removes any doubt that situations of passive publication, such as placing material on Internet websites, fall within the scope of copyright law. The Bill also contains 'notify and take down' provisions. These provide that if copyright infringing material is being carried on a service, such as an Internet service, and the rightsowners inform the service providers that infringing material is being carried on that service, the service providers will be obliged to remove that material as soon as is practicable. If the service provider fails to do this, he or she will also be held liable for that infringement. The Bill explicitly deals with representations of works. This will ensure that digital representations of works are properly covered by copyright law.
These examples show the Government's determination to address specific copyright problems associated with new technologies, as well as providing a strong general legislative environment for the protection of copyright and related rights in the information age.
I trust I have shown the vital importance of effective and efficient copyright and related rights legislation for the health of our economy and society in the information age. This is an important step in a major programme of commercial law reform which is already well on the way to rectifying the evils of past neglect of intellectual property law. As we enter the new millennium, the enactment of this Bill will move our copyright law from its present backward state to one fully capable of meeting the demands of the information age. I commend the Bill to the House.