In the absence of Senator Murphy, I take it that amendment No. 3 is not being moved?
Copyright Bill, 1962—Committee Stage (Resumed) and Final Stages.
This is a drafting amendment, consequential on an amendment made in Section 48 during the Report Stage of the Bill in the Dáil. Section 48 now applies only to films which are broadcast, and a dispute regarding the payment to the owner of a musical work incorporated in such a film can only arise in respect of Radio Éireann. That is the purpose of the amendment.
This is the section which provides that publishers must supply copies of books published by them to certain libraries. The change made in this section as opposed to the corresponding section in the British Act is the addition of the library of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. Obviously I have no objection to that. I am entirely in favour of giving this right to the library at Maynooth.
This section again raises the question of whether this is the right method of dealing with this problem. Generally speaking, Irish publishers are not in a big way of business and they cannot afford, as well as the English publishers can, to supply 11 copies of every book they publish to libraries in Ireland and Britain. English publishers who have far more resources supply five or six copies, I think. Obviously it is a good bargain for us to supply books to those five English libraries because, whereas perhaps 100 or so books are published in Ireland every year, somewhere around 18,000 books are published in England and the library in Trinity College is entitled to a copy of every one of them. Obviously that is a good bargain, but I wonder is this the best way of dealing with it.
It was suggested on Second Stage that it might be better if the State, the Arts Council or some such body gave a small money grant to Irish publishers to enable them to supply those copies but I think that is not the way to deal with it. This provision seems to me to be a sign of a certain meanness on the part of Governments to Irish libraries. Surely the answer is that Irish libraries should be provided with sufficient money to enable them to buy the few books that are published in Ireland? I am in favour of the Bill as it stands, but I think the idea should be considered on a future occasion in suitable legislation that it might be better to subsidise our libraries adequately.
It is ludicrous when one considers the few books which are published in Ireland that our libraries should be in a position that they are apparently unable to buy copies of these books. If they cannot buy copies of the few books published in Ireland, they are much less in a position to buy copies of the 18,000 books published in Britain every year, not to speak of the books published in the United States. While I support the section, I think that is an example of a wrong approach to our libraries.
Now that the Bill is about to pass, I think this is an appropriate time to say something I might perhaps have said during the earlier stages either here or in the Dáil. When this Bill passes, I think we will have a good, up-to-date piece of copyright legislation which will be in the best tradition of the protection of copyright in Ireland. I think we can claim that copyright was first established by a judgment made in Ireland in the sixth century. There is an old manuscript in the Royal Irish Academy which contains an account of the judgment given in the sixth century by Diarmuid McCarroll against Columcille. I think it is worth reading, and putting on record, an extract from that judgment. It is an extract from a Royal Irish Academy manuscript, No. 24, page 25, and it is reproduced in the International Bureau at its headquarters in Geneva. The extract reads:
At that time Columcille (521-597) went to the house of Finnian of Drum Finn and sought the loan of a book from him, viz. Finnian's copy of the Four Gospels, as it were to correct a book thereby. Finnian gave him the book, and Columcille copied it at night unknown to Finnian. Finnian learnt of the copying of the book in theft and was angered, and set about bringing him to law for it. "I will give you the judgment of the king of Ireland on it," said Columcille, "viz. Diarmuid Mac Cearbhaill.""I will accept that," said Finnian. Both sides went then to Tara where Diarmuid was and told him their tidings, and Finnian alleged the copying in theft, and that the copy of his book belonged to him. Columcille said that Finnian's book was none the worse for his copying from it. Said Diarmuid: "To every cow its calf, and to every book its copy."
In old Irish, that is: "Le gach boin a laog agus le gach leabhar a leabran." That, I think, we can properly claim was the first copyright law.