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.