Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007 [Seanad]: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am pleased to put before the House the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007 for consideration and debate.

From the dawn of civilisation, writing has formed a central part of most known human cultures, enriching beyond estimation the lives of countless people over the ages. In times past, creators were required to rely for a livelihood on patronage, or on short-term payments to cover what in today's parlance we might refer to as the "making available" of their works either through publication or performance. In this modern age of mass culture and communication, authors cannot be expected to survive on spiritual sustenance alone.

Ireland's contribution to the rich heritage of literature is immense, boasting works from outstanding authors such as Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats and James Joyce. Ireland also has one of the oldest vernacular literature and poetry traditions in Europe representing more or less an unbroken cycle from the 6th century to the present day. I am delighted that this tradition continues and that Irish writers tend to punch above their weight in literary terms as evidenced by the recent bestowal of the Man Booker prize on an Irish author, Anne Enright, for her book, The Gathering.

It is important, therefore, that Ireland continues to nurture a positive creative environment in which writers, poets and playwrights are encouraged to produce works of the intellect and that this contribution is reflected also in terms of economic reward for those creators. This is vital from the cultural as well as the economic viewpoint because, unless creators obtain a fair return for their intellectual investment, the community at large will not continue to enjoy the benefit of their labours.

Copyright protection is absolutely central to securing the links in the economic chain between creator and consumer. Failure to create or use intellectual property means that our future as an economy will become uncertain. By the same token, if we continue to create intellectual property ahead of our competitors, it will provide the basis for a successful knowledge society.

The purpose of the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007 is to regularise the position in Ireland as regards the lending of copyright works through the public library system. Prior to the development of State-supported public libraries, private libraries had existed in which lending was made against a subscription or membership fee. Along with the development of the public library system, demand for a public lending right grew among literary authors who believed they were losing income from book sales due to the wide and free availability of their books in public libraries.

The Scandinavian countries were first to introduce a public lending right with Denmark being the first country to do so in 1946. In the UK, the Public Lending Right Act 1979 followed a 30-year campaign by authors to receive payment for the free use of their books in libraries. An operational lending scheme has been in existence in the UK since 1981.

In 1992, the EU adopted a directive on rental and lending rights which, in the context of lending, provided for an exclusive lending right for authors to permit or refuse the lending of their works. Alternatively, member states could replace the exclusive right with that of a right to remuneration under which authors would receive, in effect, a royalty payment for the use of the works. The directive also allowed for the exemption of categories of lending institutions from the public lending right. Ireland transposed the provisions of the EU directive on public lending in the context of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.

However, in 2005, the European Commission instigated legal proceedings against Ireland for failure to correctly transpose certain provisions of the EU rental and lending directive, specifically in respect of public lending. The European Court of Justice found in the Commission's favour in a decision delivered by that court in January of this year. The court found that Ireland had overly relied on the exemptions provisions in the directive to exempt all public libraries from the obligation to remunerate authors for the lending of their works. The opportunity is being taken in this Bill to come into full compliance with the court's decision.

The Bill proposes a two-pronged approach reflecting the distinct responsibilities of the two Departments with an interest in this issue. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has responsibility for intellectual property legislation and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has responsibility for public libraries.

The Bill provides that authors will, in the first instance, be granted an exclusive right to permit the public lending of their works. This exclusive right will, in the case of books, be replaced by a system of remuneration of authors which will apply to book lendings from the public library system only. Thus, lending through the public library system will be subject to the public lending remuneration scheme when an operational lending scheme is established under regulations to be made by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on foot of this Bill.

My Department has been in close contact with officials at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding the introduction of an operational lending scheme in respect of books in Ireland. From these contacts, it is clear that much work has already been completed in respect of the development of a public lending scheme. It is equally clear that the books lending scheme will be administered on the Minister's behalf by An Chomhairle Leabharlanna, the statutory agency for public library development in Ireland. Work on the administration of the scheme will be completed in 2008 with a view to making payments to authors in 2009.

Under the scheme, authors will receive a royalty payment for the lending of their books through the public library system. This is intended to compensate authors in some way for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries. The scheme will be publicly funded by the Exchequer and will not involve any charge to borrowers at the point of lending in libraries.

Section 1 sets out the Short Title of the Bill, when enacted, as the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Act 2007 and outlines the collective citations having regard to earlier Acts being amended.

Section 2 indicates that the principal Act being amended is the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, hereinafter referred to as the 2000 Act. Section 3 amends section 8 of the 2000 Act by allowing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to lay regulations and orders made under the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Section 4 amends section 9 of the 2000 Act by providing that expenses incurred by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the administration of a public lending remuneration scheme will be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Section 5 amends section 40 of the 2000 Act by making the act of lending copies of a work an exclusive right which vests with the copyright owner.

Section 6 amends section 42 of the 2000 Act and allows for the replacement of the exclusive lending right with that of a right to remuneration where a scheme of remuneration for the public lending of copyright works for that category of works is in place. The exclusive right will cease once a remuneration scheme is in place regardless of whether the author is a participant in the scheme. In other words, there is no intention to have a mix of rights; once a scheme is in place, the exclusive rights simply cease to exist.

Section 7 inserts a new section in the 2000 Act. It establishes the legal basis for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to make regulations establishing a public lending remuneration scheme and sets out that any such scheme will be publicly funded out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas. The provision sets out, although not exhaustively, the criteria to be covered in regulations to be made by the Minister, such as the manner of participation in the scheme, the rates of remuneration to be paid to authors, the minimum and maximum amounts payable to a participating author etc. Section 8 amends section 58 of the 2000 Act by removing the exemption under the 2000 Act which exonerates public libraries from the need to remunerate authors for the public lending of their copyright works. This was the provision objected to by the European Commission in the legal proceedings instigated against Ireland. While the exemption relating to public libraries is being removed, the position of educational establishments remains unchanged in that the exemption for these establishments continues.

Section 9 proposes to repeal section 69 of the 2000 Act and is a logical consequence of the amendment being made in section 5 of the Bill to section 40 of the 2000 Act. Section 10 amends section 205 of the 2000 Act. Performers are dealt with in a separate part of the 2000 Act and this provision confers an exclusive lending right on performers in respect of the public lending of recordings of their works.

Section 11 amends section 207 of the 2000 Act and allows for the replacement of the exclusive lending right in respect of recordings to that of a right to remuneration in respect of works which are publicly lent where a remuneration scheme for that category of works is in place.

Section 12 amends section 226 of the 2000 Act by removing the exemption under the 2000 Act which exonerates public libraries from the need to remunerate performers in respect of the public lending of the recordings of their performances. As is the case under section 8, while the exemption relating to public libraries is being removed, the position of educational establishments remains unchanged in that the exemption for these establishments will continue as before.

Section 13 amends section 320 of the 2000 Act. As a consequence of the amendment being made in section 8 of the Bill, section 58 of the Principal Act and the orders made under that section are fundamentally amended. As sections 320(2) and (3) of the 2000 Act refer to establishments prescribed by the Minister under section 58 which will no longer have any relevance upon passage of this legislation, this language is being removed from section 320.

Section 14 amends section 79 of the Local Government Act 2001 and provides a statutory basis for An Chomhairle Leabharlanna to administer a public lending remuneration scheme on behalf of the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

I have outlined the contents of the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007. I am satisfied that the Bill will not only bring Ireland into compliance with our EU commitments but it will also preserve the position of libraries as essential gateways to vast stores of humanity's recorded knowledge and information while compensating, in some way, the authors who contribute to that knowledge store. As significant players representing their users, libraries assume a pivotal role in ensuring that the public interest represented by society's need for knowledge is recognised as a priority and appropriately balanced against copyright holders' legal and moral rights.

I commend the Bill to the House.

Fine Gael accepts the Bill. It will introduce a public lending right to protect the intellectual property of writers and artists who ensure that a further remuneration scheme is in place to pay royalties to these people. This change should have been made some time ago. As the Minister has admitted it is only coming forward now as a result of enforcement proceedings under Article 228 of the consolidated treaties. If the Bill is not adopted obviously the Government will face action before the European Court of Justice, resulting in fines, the cost of which will fall on the taxpayer. For this reason we will co-operate with the speedy passage of the Bill.

However, as a future point, although I appreciate the Union is becoming more effective at enforcement proceedings and such proceedings are happening much faster than in the past, at the same time we will see the Government responding to reasoned opinions faster than in the past. I accept we are doing better than most of our European neighbours in terms of transposing legislation but we need to do better. Unfortunately, but for the failure of the constitution, which would have given the Union a legal personality and would have allowed European legislation to effectively become federal legislation, we would not have to undergo this process. It looks as if we are stuck with that for the time being, at least until we can revisit the constitution at a future point.

I wish to address the Government's record on copyright. In doing my research I came across emergency legislation in 2004 where the Government had paid €12.6 million for the James Joyce papers including early drafts of Finnegan’s Wake but could not exhibit them in the National Library due to breach of copyright law. This does not seem to be the first time we have had to rush through emergency legislation because the Government has not got it right the first time around.

There are a few questions that need to be raised. I note the cost estimates, €600,000 as set-up and €1 million as the annual cost. I would be interested to hear the basis for those figures and how they are calculated and whether there are any projects for the years ahead. If the cost is €1.1 million in the first full year what will happen after that and how will the Minister be held to account? Who will be held to account if those figures prove to be incorrect or inaccurate as they so often do?

I note the Bill will separate into maximum and minimum remuneration levels but I do not know exactly how the royalties will be negotiated — if there will be negotiation or if they will be decided upon by another body. Section 79 provides that they be paid by An Chomhairle Leabharlanna. Will that money come directly from central Government and then be paid out by An Chomhairle Leabharlanna or will the money come from some other source or from local authorities? I am concerned that at some point it will fall on local authorities yet again to pick up the bill. Those of us who come from the council are conscious of the extent to which central Government has imposed on local government, by increasing demands to produce services and making payouts to other bodies, yet has consistently refused to bring in real local government reform and reform on the financing of local government. I am concerned that if we do not have a guarantee that this will come from Central Funds that this cost will fall on local government as well.

I am interested to know if the Bill in any way affects the position of the copyright libraries, the National Library and Trinity College Library, and if they will still be entitled to copies of literature as they were in the past. Has that right been altered in any way?

Local government projections for 2010 show a €1.6 billion shortfall in local government funding. If this cost falls to local government and to local government libraries there is a risk that the cost will fall to people borrowing books. Certainly we do not want that to happen. I would welcome a reassurance from the Minister in that regard.

It was stated that educational institutions will be exempt and their state will not be affected. What is happening increasingly in Ireland, and it is a good development, is the co-locating of many of our public services. In one part of my constituency a primary school and a secondary school on the same campus share a library which is not only an education institutional library but is also a community lending library. The community centre is also the school hall. This is a very good model for developing new communities but how can we ensure that this library, which is the school library and the public lending library, is exempt, or is it? Has provision been made for that in the legislation? If I get satisfactory answers to those questions we will be happy to support the Bill and to wish it a speedy passage through the Oireachtas.

Authors and artists deserve recognition for their work and the House should be happy to ensure they get their fair share. I hope that with the passage of the Bill the Government will take seriously the vital work that libraries perform not just as an educational service but as a social service. As often happens with post offices and schools they can become part of our community. At budget time I trust the Minister will make it clear to the Minister for Finance that funding must be provided to finance this Bill and ensure it comes entirely from Central Funds.

On behalf of the Labour Party we too will want to facilitate the passage of this legislation. The Government is tardy in bringing forward this legislation although it had been precipitated by the EU Commission in its instigation in June 2007 of enforcement proceedings against Ireland under Article 228 of the EEC treaty. A recent opinion has been given and as Ireland has only a few months to respond, time is of the essence. As Deputy Varadkar said, the people who will pay for this if it is not implemented in a timely fashion will be the ordinary taxpayers who will pick up the tab for the Government's delay in introducing the legislation. While in the 2000 Act the Government may have taken a short-term view of saving money over a number of years, the fine would wipe that away very quickly.

The Labour Party welcomes the advent of the legislation in the Dáil and we will co-operate with its passage subject to a number of observations, comments and proposed amendments which we believe will improve the Bill. I will set them out here and I hope the departmental officials will consider them. Some of them have already been canvassed in the Seanad by our spokesperson, Senator Alex White. They did not seem to get the response I thought might have been forthcoming from the Minister of State. It is important that the legislation follows a belt and braces approach so that any lacunae or deficiencies, which we feel are apparent, should be remedied now. A stitch in time saves nine is the old proverb and it should be applied to legislation also. Just because amendments emanate from the Opposition, they should not be pooh-poohed as they may be worthy of inclusion. Having entered those caveats, we hope it will be quickly passed.

The legislation has been long awaited and has received a broad welcome from, among others, the Irish Writers' Union, as it provides a legal framework for a public lending right to pay writers whose books are borrowed through public libraries. It appears that details of the scheme will be included in later regulations that will emanate from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, as it is clear that public libraries and the Library Council, An Chomhairle Leabharlanna, fall under the remit of that Department. Those regulations obviously will be introduced by way of statutory instrument. We would like to understand how they will be formulated. There are issues regarding the membership of an advisory council. Those are important issues we need to thrash out and we would like to get a preview of the intentions of the Minister of State in order to ensure that the relevant parties are involved in an advisory role and can make an input. Those are the people at the coalface and we must ensure they are included.

In so far as one can ascertain, this legislation has its origin as far back as 1992 when the European Directive on Lending Rights came into being. Then began a significant process of campaigns and pressure by the Public Lending Rights International Network and the European Writers' Congress which culminated in a European Court of Justice decision in January 2007, C-175/05, which declared that Ireland by exempting all public libraries from paying public lending rights under the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 failed to comply with the 1992 directive and in essence was acting unlawfully, which is why we are here today.

It is important that we do not kill the goose that lays the golden egg, as public libraries play a very important and central role in promoting reading and in the promotion of Irish literature. They also promote the educational value of reading and the dissemination of information especially among elderly people, but also among the young. It is one of the places they get their first exposure to reading. It is an important educational tool as well as providing general knowledge.

It is crucial that the public lending rights be funded by the Exchequer and not from public library budgets. One cannot but laud the role of local authorities, whose centrality to the provision and maintenance of public libraries cannot be underestimated. As a member of a local authority in times of straitened finances, I recall clearly the great debates on trying to save money. Councillors always adopted a proactive role in trying to provide finances in times of great scarcity over the years which was essential to keep those libraries going. I acknowledge the role over the years of the county librarians and their excellent staff, who played pivotal roles in this regard.

The Labour Party believes that the Exchequer should provide the funding as to do otherwise would diminish the already scarce resources of the public libraries. As they already operate on shoestring budgets, it is important that nothing be done in the passage of this legislation that might diminish the finance available to them. The public lending rights will offer support to authors, many of whose works are not promoted, as the large multinational chains clearly concentrate on a small number of big names and bestsellers. Libraries often offer such authors the best chance of exposure as they have a wide selection of books available, including many out of print titles.

The payment will assist Irish writers, many of whom are unable to earn a living from writing alone. Some writers have been very successful over the years as mentioned by the Minister of State. For all the successful writers we have, there are many others who do not earn very much. It is important that they are helped out in that regard. We must ensure they continue to practise their craft and skills in writing. The United Kingdom imposes an annual cap of approximately £6,000 on the amount an individual can earn from a public lending right, which ensures that for very successful writers the payment does not become lopsided. Some Irish writers probably benefit from the UK public lending right payment scheme, which is operated here by the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency. It is clear that the introduction of this scheme will open up an ancillary benefit for writers in other countries. Reciprocal arrangements will be in place with other countries and I am sure some of our writers will gain under that aspect also.

The legislation primarily deals with books. While I am not a technological person, there are videos, DVDs and other technological ways of dissemination of material. I ask the Minister of State to address the copyright issues that will arise regarding the lending of these. I am sure he has paid attention to the issue and has a view on it.

Section 7 inserts a new section in the 2000 Act enabling the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to make regulations to establish a public lending remuneration scheme and sets out that any such scheme be funded out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas. It also sets out the rates of remuneration, including minimum and maximum amounts payable to participating authors. The lack of a commencement order appears to be a potentially serious flaw in the Bill. The Bill as it stands commences on enactment, which means that the existing exemption for lending by libraries etc. will be repealed. However, as it will take time for the regulations to be formulated under section 7, it would seem to leave libraries in a legal limbo in the meantime. To remedy this lacuna a commencement provision is required to allow section 7 to operate immediately but the repeals only to come into operation on the making of regulations. Otherwise libraries might be forced to stop lending books until regulations are made. While this proposal is not the be-all and end-all, the Minister of State should investigate it.

Section 8 repeals section 58 of the 2000 Act, removing the exemption which exonerated public libraries from the need to remunerate authors for the public lending of their copyright works. This is the section to which the European Commission objected. As the Minister of State said, the position of educational establishments in this framework is important. These will obviously now not be included in the public lending right remuneration scheme and will continue to enjoy the exemption from the public lending right, which is important. Will there be an interregnum period? What will happen between the passage of the Act and the commencement by way of regulations? Let us not fall between two stools. I say this in a generous and positive way, and do not mean to be obstructive in any way. Ireland has had numerous success stories, including Wilde, Shaw, Yeats and Joyce and we have been very lucky.

I refer to the proposed advisory committee. Approximately 50 writers could earn their living from writing and the royalties payable under the scheme will be of some help in this regard. It is crucially important to establish what will be in the statutory instrument and it will also be important to ascertain whether the advisory body will be similar to its counterpart in the United Kingdom. I ask the Minister to ensure such an advisory committee will be representative of writers' groups such as the Irish Writers' Union, which has campaigned for the introduction of this legislation for a considerable time. It is important that a group of its status be consulted to ensure the inclusion of one of its representative on the advisory body the Minister intends to set up.

We are eager to facilitate the passage of the Bill but attention must be paid to a number of issues. One of our legal advisers suggests an amendment that the collective citation, Local Government Acts 1925-2007 should include Part 3. This is a drafting amendment designed to update the collective citation. The Water Services Act 2007 creates a collective citation of these Acts, even though it has not commenced. However, its collective citation does not require commencement and, therefore, is deemed to have commenced on enactment. Unless our amendment is accepted, anomalies could arise in referring to the Local Government Acts in future, as there would be two inconsistent citations for them. That is important to ensure the law is clear, concise and precise. We welcome the Bill and we will facilitate its passage.

I thank the Chair for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this new legislation, which is welcome. It is only fair that we should always protect and defend our writers, authors, musicians and artists. Ireland was once known as the land of saints and scholars but, sadly, that has radically changed on many issues. We need to refocus our vision of society and the direction we are headed as a country. Part of this debate centres on how our authors are treated and the difficulties they face in the modern, changing world. The legislation is an important element in assisting them going forward.

The purpose of the Bill is to introduce a public lending right that will provide authors initially with an exclusive right with regard to the lending of their works in public libraries, which can be replaced by the right to remuneration when the public lending remuneration scheme is in place. The Bill contains 13 sections and it is not contentious. It was well received on Second Stage in the Seanad, which is welcome. The legislation will regularise Ireland's position in providing recognition for authors and royalty payments for the lending of their books, which the State is duty bound to recognise under EU law, which is positive.

However, the Government always has to react to EU law. Are we not confident, as a nation, to protect and assist our authors and artists without having to be told to do so by the Union? This is a constant issue in protecting the rights of our people, which should happen regardless. The rights of writers or any other members in society should always be a matter of fact. As legislators, we should lead on this issue and we should not always have to be directed by the Union to protect specific sectors and citizens in society. It is important to support and develop the skills of artists, particularly those who do not earn significant money. However, those who do have a responsibility to the country and their audience to stay in the country and pay taxes like the rest of us. Jumping ship to base oneself in another country to make more money smacks of greed and should be challenged by Members. I raise this because many writers and artists, particularly those earning less than €50,000 per annum support that position. It is important to recognise the vast majority do not make a great deal of money but they make a massive contribution to the country. We only hear of those who win international competitions now and again but many creative people living on the north side of Dublin make a significant contribution to the discipline of writing.

Public libraries provide great examples of their use and good practice. Over the past 20 years I have used their services on literacy projects in the arts and music for disadvantaged pupils. Poor children have an early opportunity to be exposed to the wonders of books and the arts. These services need to be promoted to help the development of young writers and so on and libraries play a significant part. Young children use libraries to access books, the arts and information technology to develop their skills and this needs to be defended and protected.

More creativity is needed, particularly in disadvantaged areas where many people are excluded from the arts. Many disadvantaged schools have made a contribution to the development of writing, poetry, music and other artistic disciplines and they do excellent work with children in these areas. There is massive potential to develop their literary skills. If children with reading difficulties are encouraged to participate in the arts at a young age, it could have a massive impact on their lives. Reading poetry in front of other children helps them to develop their skills and that is important to literacy projects. Many of them said in September that they could not read or did not like reading but, at the same time, they were exposed to positive development in their local libraries and highlighting these services is crucial. These children were given an opportunity to change their lives and libraries must be supported on this issue.

Section 5 amends section 40 of the principal Act and provides for an exclusive lending right to be exercised by the author. Section 6 amends section 42 of the principal Act to set out that an exclusive lending right applies in respect of the public lending of copyright works unless and until a remuneration scheme is otherwise in place. Section 7 enables the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to make regulations to establish a public lending remuneration scheme. The scheme will be publicly funded out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas. The provision sets out, although not exhaustively, the criteria to be covered in regulations, for example, the manner of participating in the scheme, rates of remuneration, minimum and maximum amounts payable to a participating author etc.

I welcome the funding of the public lending scheme by the Exchequer and it will involve funding both the administration of the scheme through An Chomhairle Leabharlanna and making annual payments to authors in respect of the lending of their works. The initial cost will be approximately €600,000. It is anticipated that this figure will include accommodation and refurbishment costs for An Chomhairle Leabharlanna and IT software costs. It is also anticipated that ongoing annual costs will be incurred in the region of €1.1 million to cover both the administration of the scheme and the payments to authors. Looking at the figures of €600,000 and €1.1 million, one is conscious that this is a major investment and we must be very aware of public funds. Nonetheless, I ask whether sufficient money is available for this section and if the €1.1 million will be enough to resource that package. It is important, as I said, to focus on the responsibilities of the broader vision on this issue. We must protect our writers and ensure they are looked after. We also have to protect those who work and develop the services because of the many developments that have taken place over a number of years.

I have mentioned the good practices in some of our local libraries such as Coolock, for example, and Raheny which have made a massive contribution towards improving literacy levels and skills among young people on the north side of Dublin. However, we must accept the reality that many public libraries are an enormous local resource for people and schools that do not necessarily have many resources at times. The sad reality is that without the involvement of these schools with their local libraries many children would not have the opportunity of using these services. I raise this on the legislation because these matters are all indirectly connected. It is not acceptable to have young people who do not get the same opportunity as middle class children, perhaps, when it comes to writing, the arts, music and the literacy base that many in their age groups have. The key is to ensure this country, once known as the island of saints and scholars, develops a respect for its writers and authors and also transforms the level of interest in this area. There are children and young people who are very interested in the arts and writing and we must ensure their potential is developed. As I mentioned there are examples of good practice where some progressive schools with high literacy problems, particularly in poor areas, invite writers and poets in and use their skills to develop respect for literature among children as well as reading skills. This is something all schools should learn from as well as all politicians including Members of the Oireachtas.

I welcome the broad thrust of the Bill as a positive development in the way we treat writers and authors in this country. There are some very progressive sections in the legislation. The only concern I have relates to the resourcing of €1.1 million. I hope that money is adequate, but it is important to take the broader vision of respecting the work of our writers and artists. Only a few of them make it onto the international stage but the vast majority make massive contributions in their own communities. We have many good authors on the north side of Dublin who make enormous contributions to their local communities in Coolock, Darndale, Marino and such places. They might not all necessarily make the headlines, but their contributions are worthy. They can be involved in local history projects etc. and deserve to be included in this debate. I welcome and support the legislation.

I welcome the publication of this Bill but I am disappointed that it took a case to the European Court of Justice for it to be produced. Certainly, in Ireland there is a rich heritage of literature, from W.B. Yeats to Oscar Wilde. More recent famous writers include Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright, who had such a great success with her book, The Gathering, in winning the Booker prize. We have a rich heritage of literature and should do all we can to protect it.

Artists and writers need recognition for the great work they do. The stories they tell brighten up people's lives and in any event they deserve a fair return for their intellectual investment. This copyright protection Bill will help to ensure that happens. In 1979 the UK Government introduced legislation which provided that an author received some compensation when his or her book was borrowed from a library.

It is disappointing that this initiative has been fomented by European legislation and that we have not introduced it previously. The Bill is obviously beneficial to authors. Public libraries certainly provide a valuable service within communities. As Deputy Finian McGrath indicated, there are some great staff in Raheny and Coolock libraries. They have projects on an ongoing basis with students from the local schools encouraged to visit the libraries. There are few better ways for youngsters to spend their time. We hear too much about anti-social behaviour plaguing communities. Given the resources available it is important that people make the fullest use of public libraries. I commend the staff of the libraries who provide such great amenities for all the youngsters and schools in my area of Dublin North-East. The Minister of State might keep in mind that libraries provide a great social contact point for communities, similar in effect to post offices around the country. We should endeavour to make more public libraries available throughout this city and country.

As regards the costs of the scheme and the backdating of royalty payments, will the Minister of State say whether the calculations will go back a number of years or will the scheme come into effect from 2009 onwards?

It will go from 2009.

I wanted confirmation on that. Also, how many staff will be needed to administer the scheme, or will all be done centrally using an automatic system? Will there be a need for extra administration? As regards royalty payments to authors, will that be done electronically or by cheque? How long will it take before an author is paid? Will he or she be paid on a yearly or quarterly basis?

Section 10 of the Bill relates to the public lending of recordings and works and royalty payments to authors. Does that include CDs and DVDs in libraries? In Raheny library there is a good supply of CDs and DVDs. Obviously there is room for more modern titles, but there is a considerable stock of CDs and DVDs, and will authors be compensated, accordingly? Certainly, Fine Gael is satisfied with the Bill, which will bring us into line with the EU.

As regards the pirate market, I am aware that there is door to door selling of DVDs in certain parts of my constituency. The authors concerned are losing out on copyright protection and as regards CDs it is estimated that music artists throughout the world are losing out on billions of euro. Are there plans to introduce new legislation in that area as well? In China, for example, the estimated value of the pirate market is $591 million, while in Russia it is $332 million. This is a considerable amount of money that artists are losing out on.

We certainly have a rich literary heritage, of which we are rightly very proud. It is important that writers' livelihoods be protected. This legislation will help and they will receive the payment they deserve for their work. I commend the Bill to the House.

I welcome the Bill and welcome the Minister of State to the House. A number of Members have spoken about the genesis of the Bill. While it was unfortunate that it was necessitated by a Council directive, it is welcome that the Minister of State and Department have taken the initiative to introduce it and protect Irish authors. Members have spoken adequately about our extensive literary tradition, which dates back generations, and how it has allowed the Irish, a nation of scholars, to present themselves in overseas markets. It is important that this legislation be enacted to show that the State supports those who develop literary content.

In the modern age, the focus is not so much on books, magazines and papers as on the Internet. The Internet is ultimately no different to the paper used in books in that it is merely a mechanism for transmitting content. It is vital that we think more about content than the means by which it is transmitted because this allows us to focus on the individuals who create it. It is critical that we continue to recognise their input. With the advent of the Internet, we tend to forget the creativity, flair and artistic endeavour of authors. It is important that their entitlements and capacity to find gainful employment and receive adequate remuneration for their work be protected. This legislation achieves this and protects them against the loss of sales arising from the lending of their books in the public library system.

It is important to recognise the comprehensive work public libraries do through the county councils and it is fitting to recognise the role of the county librarian in this regard. The county librarian in County Clare, Noel Crowley, has done immense work to provide adequate funding to develop the library system throughout the county. I am sure the same applies in many other counties. Over the past four or five years in my constituency, there has been significant investment to ensure the library system is not confined solely to the county town and that outreach locations are adequately stocked with books and have Internet access. Efforts have been made to keep books in a modern and well-maintained location.

Very shortly a new library will open in Scarriff in the centre of east Clare. It will be part of a new local area office. The incorporation of libraries into local offices by local authorities represents good and careful use of public finances. It ensures the public will be more familiar with the work of their local authority in that, by utilising the library housed under the same roof, they might visit the local authority office more regularly.

The library service has perhaps been under-resourced for many years. The investment that is now being made is welcome and helps to put knowledge and culture at the centre of our learning experience. While this is being done, it is important that the Department recognises those who make libraries possible, namely the authors who continue to make information available. It is only right that we continue to ensure that necessary resources are made available.

Members have referred to the requirement for adequate finance to implement this legislation. While we recognise that the Minister of State has indicated the legislation will not be retrospective, I am sure authors have a view on this. It is welcome that a decision has been made to ensure they will be remunerated in the future. It is important to ensure the existence of adequate funding to compensate them, in a real way, for the potential losses that will result from customers borrowing their books from libraries rather than purchasing them.

I support the Minister wholeheartedly in his efforts to ensure the centrality of the author and hope the necessary funding will be put in place to ensure the continuation of the valuable experience we all remember from our first opportunity to attend a public library and borrow books that added to our learning experience. Perhaps it helped some more than others.

I thank Deputies Varadkar, Penrose, Finian McGrath, Terence Flanagan and Dooley for their positive contributions and support for this legislation. I concur with their comments on the social importance of libraries to urban and rural communities.

A number of questions were raised by Deputies during their contributions. These questions are such that there is no need for a Committee Stage, but we will have to have it anyhow. Deputy Varadkar's first question related to the annual cost to the Exchequer of the proposed scheme. The set-up cost is estimated to be €911,294 and the annual cost is expected to be €1,180,403, of which it is estimated that approximately €846,000 will go to authors.

I was asked whether specific provision would be made from public funds. The question of appropriate provision will be raised in the context of the public service Estimates for 2008 and a commitment was made to fund the scheme from the Exchequer.

I was asked how much each author would receive per book lent. The total is estimated to amount to €846,000 and the estimate per book is expected to be approximately 15 cent per loan. This will apply to 42% of all loans and is based on the UK experience. In the United Kingdom, approximately 5p or 6p is paid per loan and there is a ceiling of £6,600 per author. All the regulations in the Irish system will be determined by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Deputy Varadkar also questioned what will happen where there is a library on a school campus. Trinity College serves as an example in this regard and it will continue to be exempt from the provisions on public lending as it comes under the definition of an educational establishment. This is also the case for primary and secondary schools. In respect of Deputy Penrose's question about the operation of the system, an advisory committee will be established which will advise on policy and the operation of the system. The make-up of the committee will include authors, editors and illustrators so it will embrace people from a wide range of sectors.

The proposed scheme is modelled on the well established scheme in the UK. Authors will be required to register their personal details, such as name and address, and other details such as the title and date of publication of each book for which they wish to claim public lending rights. The amount of money to be paid to each registered author will be calculated by multiplying the rate per loan by the number of loans. A minimum and a maximum payment will be set. An Chomhairle Leabharlanna has negotiated with the registrar of the public lending rights office in the UK for the use of its computer software, which will save on development time and money.

A question was raised about how many authors would be likely to benefit. It is difficult to estimate the number of authors who will register for the Irish scheme but there is no reason to think that the authors who have already registered in the UK will not do so in Ireland. The UK system has approximately 33,000 living authors registered and we can expect a significant number of these authors to register in Ireland.

There will also be authors in Ireland who are not already registered in the UK. Each year, the Public Lending Rights office registers on average 1,300 new authors, with 4,000 titles and 11,000 titles from previously registered authors. It is estimated that the Irish figures may follow this pattern.

Deputy Penrose also raised the question of the legal position between the creation of an exclusive right at the point of enactment of this Bill and the creation of the public lending remuneration scheme. It is the case that upon enactment, the exclusive right will be created which authors can exercise to prohibit the lending of their books in libraries. However, we are legally advised that it is essential to facilitate the withdrawal by the European Commission of Article 228 proceedings pending against the State that this exclusive right is introduced as soon as possible. It would, of course, be ideal if the scheme of remuneration of authors could be in place at the time of the enactment of the Bill but this is not realistic. While our colleagues in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government are making significant progress in advancing arrangements for the scheme, it is not likely to be set up until 2008.

Deputy Penrose also raised the question of the collective citation. On Committee Stage in the Seanad, I accepted a Labour Party amendment regarding the collective citation.

Deputy Finian McGrath raised a question about the development of the public library system. This system continues to make a substantial contribution to furthering the national development plan objective of establishing an inclusive society in which all citizens can participate fully in the social and economic life of the country and to furthering the objectives set out in the Government's action plan on the information society. There has also been a focus on serving multicultural communities and a report on a research project on this has recently been published. New innovative ways of developing the library service are being explored, with a move away from stand-alone libraries towards more integrated library projects as part of one-stop-shop civic centres and arts and cultural centres.

Mention was made of tardiness in bringing the legislation forward. The existing Bill of 2000 was drafted under the legal advice available to the Government at that time. It is only since the European Court of Justice decision in January that we are aware that this transposition was incorrect. The Bill was drafted prior to the general election and would have been enacted prior to that if we did not go ahead and put ourselves to the trouble of getting re-elected.

Deputy Terence Flanagan and other speakers raised a question about DVDs. DVDs and so on will not be brought into the public lending scheme as this point, although the legislation allows them to be brought in at some future point. Deputy Terence Flanagan specifically asked about the legality of what is happening with regard to the pirating of DVDs and CDs. I acknowledge that there is a serious problem in that area but legal action is being taken against DVD pirates, with hefty fines being imposed on offenders. In August 2007, the first jailing of a DVD pirate, who received six months' imprisonment in the District Court, took place. This has been hailed by representatives of the recorded music industry as a powerful deterrent in the fight against piracy.

I hope I have answered most of the questions raised and we will discuss on Committee Stage any other views, queries or suggestions of Members. I again thank all the Deputies for their positive contributions.

I have a query in respect of back-payments.

The Minister of State addressed that.

Payments will be made from 1 January and it is not envisaged that they will be retrospective.

What is the minimum and maximum amount that will be paid to an author? Does the Minister of State have those figures?

That will be determined by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. However, I presume that it is envisaged it will be within the same range as that in the UK.

How many staff will it take to administer the scheme and how often will royalty payments be made to authors?

I do not have the details of this but maybe we will have a look at it on Committee Stage.

Question put and agreed to.