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

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I congratulate Senator Burke on his re-election as Leas-Chathaoirleach. I wish him continued success in his position. He did a great job in the last five years and I am sure he will do the same in the next five.

I am pleased to bring forward the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007 and to outline its main provisions. "To every cow its calf and to every book its copy": this inspired ruling by Diarmuid, High King of Ireland in 561 AD, in a dispute between St. Colmcille and St. Finnian over a book which Colmcille copied while a guest of St. Finnian provides a fitting introduction to the provisions in the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007. Unfortunately, Diarmuid's decision was not well received by Colmcille who went to war and defeated Diarmuid in a pitched battle on the slopes of Benbulben, County Sligo in which several thousand men were slain. I trust that this Bill will be better received in this House.

For a country its size, Ireland has made a disproportionate contribution to world literature with the works of Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats and James Joyce, to name but a few, garnering a name for Ireland as a country rich in literary culture and heritage. Such works of the intellect must be and are protected as prize possessions under the continually evolving corpus of legislation dealing with intellectual property. Copyright and its related rights are essential to human creativity by giving creators incentives in the form of recognition and fair economic rewards. Under this system of rights, creators are assured that their works can be disseminated without fear of unauthorised copying or piracy. This in turn helps increase access to and enhances the enjoyment of culture, knowledge and entertainment throughout the world.

The purpose of the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007 is to regularise the position as regards the lending of copyright works through the public library system. The development in the 19th century of the public library system meant that authors experienced a proliferation in the public lending of their works without any economic benefit accruing to them in return. Prior to the development of State-supported public libraries, private libraries had existed whereby lending was made against a subscription or membership fee. Alongside 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 United Kingdom, 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 United Kingdom 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 2003, the European Commission instigated legal proceedings against Ireland for failure correctly to transpose certain provisions of the EU rental and lending directive, specifically in regard to 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 we 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 achieve 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 - my own Department, with responsibility for intellectual property legislation, and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, which has responsibility for public libraries. The Bill provides that authors will, in the first instance, be granted an exclusive right to permit the lending of their works in public libraries. This exclusive right will be replaced by a right to remuneration when an operational lending scheme is put in place 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 contact with officials at the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding the introduction of an operational lending scheme for books in Ireland. From these contacts, it is clear that a scheme for books 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 for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries. I would like to emphasise that the scheme will be publicly funded by the Exchequer and will not involve any charge to borrowers at the point of lending in libraries. Equally, it is intended that the remuneration scheme will apply to book lending from the public library system only and will not extend to lending of books in schools and other educational establishments.

I will now explain the provisions of each section of the Bill. 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 to 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 irrespective of whether the author is a participant in the scheme. In other words, there is no intention to have a mix of rights and once a scheme is in place the exclusive rights simply cease to exist.

Section 7 inserts a new section to the 2000 Act which provides 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 in, for example, the manner of participating in the scheme, the rates of remuneration to be paid to authors and the minimum and maximum amounts payable to a participating author.

Section 8 proposes to repeal 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 to which the European Commission objected in the legal proceedings instigated against Ireland. I advise Members that on the basis of representations I have received and which I am considering, I may move an amendment to this section on Committee Stage which would mean an amendment to section 58 as opposed to repealing the section in its entirety. The intention is to remove the exemption relating to public libraries but to maintain thestatus quo for educational establishments. Educational institutions will not be included in the public lending right and I wish to ensure the Bill achieves this.

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 with 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 proposes to repeal section 226 of the 2000 Act by removing the exemption on public libraries to remunerate rights owners for the public lending of their works. However, as in the case of section 8, I advise Members that I may move an amendment to this section on Committee Stage in this House to ensure that thestatus quo for educational establishments is maintained and they continue to enjoy an exemption from the public lending right. Section 13 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. In the same way that the issue of copyright ownership and the moral and economic rights deriving thereunder was important back in 561 AD, they continue to be of importance today. I am satisfied this Bill will not only bring Ireland into compliance with our EU commitments but will also preserve the position of libraries as essential gateways to the full spectrum of humanity's recorded knowledge and information while compensating the authors who contribute to that vast knowledge store. As significant players representing their users, libraries assume a pivotal role in ensuring 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.

I warmly congratulate the Leas-Chathaoirleach on his unanimous election and concur with the kind words offered by Members on all sides of the House. I welcome the Minister of State. He and I have become familiar faces to each other over the past five years and I am glad to see his return. I thank him and his Department for introducing this Bill and wish him well in the months, if not years, that lie ahead.

Fine Gael accepts the Bill, although we have some comments to make. However, such a consensus may not be repeated. Fine Gael, strengthened greatly in numbers and facing a brittle Government of many different parts, will offer vigorous opposition in the forthcoming period. The recent election, of which my party is both proud and disappointed, has changed the political landscape in this country. As democrats, we accept the result and I warmly welcome all Senators who have been elected or appointed to this House.

The Bill itself is not particularly contentious. The Department states that under the Bill authors will be conferred with an exclusive right to allow the lending of their works in public libraries. The legislation foresees the establishment under regulations to be brought forward of a public lending remuneration scheme under which authors would receive a royalty payment for the lending of their works. However, while I am sure we can all agree the merits of that, other issues ought to be raised. I am glad to note the Minister of State intends to bring amendments on Committee Stage.

The Government's record in the area of copyright is less than stellar. In 2004 the Government was forced to introduce emergency legislation after it had paid €12.6 million in 2001 for more than 500 sheets written by James Joyce, including drafts of eight episodes ofUlysses and proofs of Finnegans Wake. The material was to form the centrepiece of the National Library’s James Joyce and Ulysses exhibition but the author’s estate warned the library that the exhibition could breach copyright legislation. The purpose of that legislation was to remove any doubt as to the right of any person to place literary or artistic works protected by copyright or copies thereof on public exhibition without committing a breach of copyright.

In welcoming the Bill it should be pointed out that the legislation is simply bringing Ireland into line with the EU directive on rental and lending. This is yet another example of how the EU is a force for good in this country and other members states. In that regard, I am delighted at the Green Party's Pauline conversion to the European cause.

The Senator will have to wait and see.

I have always recognised Senator Boyle as pragmatic, thoughtful and realistic, and I am sure Senator de Búrca shares those qualities.

The Bill envisages that authors will be conferred with an exclusive right to allow the lending of their works in public libraries. It foresees the establishment under regulations to be brought forward by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of a public lending remuneration scheme under which authors would receive a royalty payment for the lending of their works. The Department explicitly states the scheme will be publicly funded and will not involve direct costs to borrowers at the point of lending. Fine Gael hereby puts down a marker that we will tolerate nothing else. We cannot allow this scheme to become a fund raiser through the imposition of fees on borrowers.

Too often local government is seen as a soft touch. In an effort to give the impression that this is a low tax economy, local government has been left to pick up the funding slack by imposing taxes and charges with which central Government does not wish to be associated. Local government funding is of great importance in this debate.

Despite the fact that, according to the Government's own report, by 2010 there will be a €1.5 billion shortfall in local government funding, there was a paltry 2% increase this year. It is obvious the Government intends to continue its policy of taxing householders and businesses by stealth in order to make up the massive shortfall this year's budget will not come close to addressing.

I thought we were discussing a copyright Bill.

The Bill is cross cutting, being sponsored by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment but implemented by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The Bill should be seen in the light of the future of the arts in this country. The arts represent us all, in our ability to live outside ourselves, to imagine, to create, to respond, to communicate locally, globally, aesthetically, emotionally and culturally. However, we have consistently failed to recognise the importance of the arts. We are quick to recognise ourselves economically but do not see or understand the artist in us all.

The last term of Government was not a particularly good one for the arts. Public funding of the arts in Ireland has consistently languished below what is normal in other European Union countries. The potential within the arts sector for significant and innovative development is enormous. Individual artists and arts organisations make an immeasurable contribution to our society and our lives would be much the poorer for their absence.

My party is happy to support the Bill and I wish it a speedy passage through the Oireachtas. Artists and authors deserve recognition for their work and this House should be happy to ensure they get their fair share. I hope the passage of this Bill represents due recognition of the vital work of our libraries in performing both an educational and social service. As with post offices, libraries are often at the heart of our communities. As budget time approaches, I trust the Minister will make this clear to the Minister for Finance.

I welcome this Bill. I am aware that today's debate is under a time constraint but I will make a more lengthy contribution at the next stage. The intellectual property rights of citizens are sacrosanct. I have been closely associated with this industry for more than 30 years and know that we are viewed, throughout the world, as a country that can be relied and depended on. Most of Europe has examined our last copyright Bill, which admittedly took a long time to pass through both Houses. Certainly with regard to the software industry, Ireland is viewed as a nation that can be trusted.

I commend the good work done in our libraries. The library system was often neglected at local authority level when budgets and yearly reviews of estimates were being drawn up. Thankfully, that has changed now. The local libraries, which are now almost one-stop shops, have enhanced the country. Now the people of Ireland can reap the benefits of the expertise, creativity and innovation of our writers.

I wish to share my time with Senators Boyle and Leyden.

As this is a Bill that deals with copyright and intellectual property, I am reminded of a famous story where President John F. Kennedy was addressing a dinner in the White House for Nobel Prize laureates and remarked that the gathering represented the biggest collection of intellect that the White House had ever seen, except for the time the third president, Mr. Thomas Jefferson, dined alone. It seems there are several candidates in this Chamber who would think themselves the Irish equivalent of Mr.Jefferson. I am sorry they are not here at present.

The Senator should not just look in one direction.

This Bill is a modest one, technical in nature. Its principle is something with which the House seems ready to agree. It offers an opportunity, at Second and subsequent Stages, to discuss necessary changes in the areas of copyright and the library service. I will not dwell on those issues now but it is important to place a marker on them. During the term of the last Seanad, the Government introduced an emergency bill relating to the Joyce letters. Regulations have been also introduced governing the resale of works by visual artists. Following the passage of this Bill, consideration should be given to a consolidation Bill dealing with the entire area of copyright because the approach to date has been too piecemeal.

With regard to the library service, which is the responsibility of my party colleague, Deputy John Gormley, as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, we must recognise that some local authorities have been creative and innovative while others have not. There is a need for a common standard of library service across the country. We must recognise the changing face of libraries, which are no longer just repositories of books, important though that is, but are increasingly access points for electronic media for people who would otherwise have no such access. That requires investment in hardware and software. The library is the only port of call for many people in this country.

I thank the Minister for giving us the opportunity to discuss this issue and look forward to a more detailed debate when we reach Committee and Final Stages of the Bill. I support the legislation before us.

It is good to hear the Senator say so.

I thank Senator Cassidy for sharing his time. I congratulate the Leas-Chathaoirleach on his unanimous selection and election. His appointment is well deserved. I have experienced Senator Burke's work in the House during the past five years and I am delighted, as a Connaught man, at the appointment of a man from the west.

I could criticise the Department and say it was slow in introducing the legislation but I was in that Department in 1991 and 1992 and am therefore reluctant to criticise the civil servants. I negotiated quite an amount of derogation when I was negotiating the Single European Act and may have been in some way responsible for the delay in its implementation.

Ireland was one of the first countries to introduce a tax concession for authors, thanks to the late Mr. Charles J. Haughey, who introduced fantastic legislation which even benefited Mr. Conor Cruise O'Brien. The latter availed of the concession for some of his writings——

Why not indeed? The Senator is correct. Mr. O'Brien was a man who never said a good word about Mr. Haughey in his life but he availed of the benefits that accrued from his legislative programme. Mr. O'Brien was not shy about it and why should he be, as Senator Ross has correctly pointed out. Perhaps Senator Ross is availing of some of the concessions himself.

I am afraid not. On a point of order, I ask Senator Leyden to withdraw that allegation. Otherwise I will be in trouble with the Revenue Commissioners.

It is not an allegation. I said that maybe the Senator was availing of concessions, but he has now confirmed that he is not.

The Senator is asked to withdraw the allegation.

It is not an allegation. I commend Senator Ross on his writing and if he ever writes a book about the Celtic tiger and its relaunch under this administration, perhaps he could avail of whatever facilities exist.

Though we were an enlightened country in terms of introducing that legislation, perhaps we were not so enlightened with regard to this particular concession. It has taken a long time. Britain introduced it in 1981 and the Scandinavians did so in 1979 but we are only introducing it now. I hope there will be no retrospection here because we would have impossible calculations to makevis-a-vis the library services.

An important aspect of this Bill, for which I compliment the Minister and the Government, is that the Exchequer will bear the cost of the legislation because local authorities would not be in a position to pick up the tab.

I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Michael Ahern, to the House and commend him on his appointment which, in the light of the exemplary job he did in his previous appointment, is well deserved. The Minister of State brought forward tremendous legislation, the Companies Act, which was most beneficial to small companies. He has been a good friend to this House, has been here on many occasions and is welcomed by all Members.

I welcome this legislation but ask the Minister of State to clarify the position on the lending of music, videos and such technologies where copyright issues arise. Libraries, as the Leader of the House knows, now loan videos and DVDs and it is important that copyright issues in such circumstances be clarified.

The Department made a clever move in the early 1990s that allowed for exemption in certain circumstances so charges would not apply but things have now caught up on us and we have recognised this.

It is now 5 p.m.

I move that the Order of Business be moved to 5.30 p.m. so that we can conclude this business.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I congratulate the Leas-Chathaoirleach on his appointment and ask to share my time with Senators Ivana Bacik and Shane Ross.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I gather we have 12 minutes, so I have four minutes to have my say. I will first declare my interest in this matter as I received a cheque today for €100.76 relating to copyright for a book I wrote that was used in schools in the past year.

Yes, that is all I received. The copyright system is one I understand and while I support in principle the notion that authors be remunerated for the use of their works, I cannot support this Bill. This Bill will create a cumbersome and inefficient way of remunerating not only deserving authors but the few successful ones least in need of State support. We are told that the annual cost of running this scheme will be in the region of €1 million, and perhaps the Minister of State could confirm this.

If I were asked to spend €1 million in support of deserving authors, I would find a different system of doing so. A more efficient way to distribute the money would be to give the €1 million to the Arts Council and let it parcel it out. If it gave 100 awards of €10,000 each year, restricted to authors who would not otherwise earn anything like such an amount, far more would be done to spread knowledge and encourage the creation of works of art than would be done through an overly bureaucratic and wrongly focused scheme.

Some may say this action must be taken to get in line with EU directives but we have been out of line for 15 years and the sky has not yet fallen in. Others may argue that a public lending scheme is a moral matter based on the rights of the author, but I feel the institution of copyright was invented for the public good, not that of individual authors. There is copyright because it is in the public interest to give inventors and authors a financial incentive to create. Beyond the commercial use of works created by individuals there is a major benefit to be had in making works available free of charge through public libraries. Libraries are used, for the most part, by people who could never afford to buy the books they borrow. The use of libraries does not take money from anyone's pocket in that because the library must buy the books in its collection, authors will receive payment on this basis.

We are addressing this issue rather late in the day which gives us the advantage of examining such schemes in other countries. Without exception, a small number of authors who do not need the money get the lion's share while the vast majority get a pittance or nothing at all. Why should we seek to imitate schemes with such a bad track record when we could put the €1 million to better use? I argue that it is for the public good that we reward not those authors who are already wealthy but rather those who put their hearts and souls into writing, although without financial success. I propose that the €1 million be given to the Arts Council so that it can make 100 awards of €10,000 to deserving authors it recognises.

I congratulate the Leas-Chathaoirleach on his election. It is just as well we are all independent in this row because I disagree with Senator Quinn. Unlike the Senator, I welcome the scheme of this Bill. I welcome the idea of public lending rights and the introduction of this Bill which is long overdue. I will make some brief points in my allotted time.

The public lending rights scheme does not benefit best-selling authors and those who do not need the money, as Senator Quinn suggested. If done properly, there would be a cap on the amount any individual author can earn in a year, as in the UK model the Irish Writers Union favours where there is a limit of approximately £6,000. This ensures an equitable distribution of money under the scheme. It provides a very small amount per author but it provides a valuable supplement to struggling authors. The Irish Writers Union estimates that only around 50 authors earn their living from royalties while the rest work in other jobs, so this will provide a valuable supplement.

There has been an unjustifiable delay in bringing forward this legislation, although it should now be commended. There were long campaigns to have it passed and Ireland has been in breach of its EU obligations in having far too broad an exemption contained in the original Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.

An important point, regarding the details of the Bill that I look forward to discussing on Committee Stage relates to the fact that section 7 is facilitative in nature and provides that the Minister may introduce regulations, not that the Minister shall introduce regulations. This is a cause for concern.

The devil is in the detail regarding this Bill. The public lending rights scheme is not set out in the Bill. It merely allows the Minister to introduce such a scheme without setting out details. This will all be in the statutory instrument. I understand that the Minister has said that no payments to authors under the scheme are envisaged until 2009, even if all goes smoothly. This is unjustifiable given how long the Irish Writers Union and others have been campaigning for the introduction of such a scheme. We will need to see what is in the statutory instrument and we would like to know some of the details, such as whether there will be an advisory committee that includes groups representing writers, as is the case in the UK model. We need to know some of this before we can unreservedly welcome the Bill.

I appreciate the Minister's concerns relating to educational institutions and this is something I look forward to dealing with on Committee Stage.

I welcome this Bill but would like to ask the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Michael Ahern, why it has taken so long as we have been in breach of an EU directive for many years. A lobby group has pushed for this legislation for 15 years and for some reason the Government failed to respond. I pay tribute to the Irish Writers Union, with which I spoke today, as it has been pushing for this on a lonely road, through the European Writers Union, for a long period.

The kind of flagrant breach of copyright law in which we have indulged is not something of which we, as a nation, can be proud. It should not be necessary for Europe to drag us to right such wrongs, but we should do it spontaneously. We deliberately flouted European law, possibly because it was inconvenient to either the Exchequer or vested interests.

Senator Quinn's suggestion might be constructive in some senses but giving the money to the Arts Council to distribute to worthy recipients would worry me because there is no such thing as objectivity in writing. The Arts Council is a politically appointed body and if it gets its hands on this €1 million, it will yield to the same temptations as all politically appointed bodies, that is, to award the allotted sums to people who happen to be in favour at the time. It is a far better suggestion that the Minister set up an advisory board that includes members of the Irish Writers Union who have expertise, a track record and commitment in this regard. I hope it will not be a blatantly politically appointed body as the Arts Council tends to be.

Approximately 50 writers only can earn their living from writing here. Most earn their living from other activities to which writing is peripheral. We should recognise this by allowing them to draw small amounts of royalties from public libraries that lend their books. There should perhaps be a cap on the amount as in the UK.

Will the Minister of State spell out in his reply what sort of regulations he intends to introduce in this enabling Bill before Committee Stage? The reference to this type of remuneration is especially vague in the Bill and we would appreciate more detail before proceeding, rather than give clearance to the Minister to draw up regulations which are unclear to us.

This is fundamentally a good Bill and I welcome it. It is right that the Exchequer would make these payments. I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House.

I congratulate the Leas-Chathaoirleach on his appointment. I wish to share my time with Senator Brendan Ryan. I welcome the Minister of State to the House.

Senator Quinn is right to say that the philosophy underlying copyright is to further the public interest. We should pause to see it in that context rather than as a direct payment for a product. This would be an interesting debate for another occasion.

The decision of the European Court of Justice leaves the Government with little or no choice but to introduce this legislation and amend the 2000 Act which, in purporting to provide for lending, did not do as the directive required it to do. A speaker on the Government side praised the Department's clever move in the 2000 Act but there is a major gap in that Act which this legislation aims to close. While Senator Quinn raises interesting issues about copyright, the international framework of our society and economy makes it essential to tidy up the provisions in the 2000 Act.

I was interested in the Leader's comment that copyright is sacrosanct. I first came across the Leader some 20 years ago when I worked in RTE. He was always on the phone to me and others there seeking to pressurise us into playing Irish music. The Leader may not recall this but it is noteworthy that his interest in this subject extends back some decades.

The amendment makes clear that the Exchequer will bear the cost arising from this legislation. There ought not be any question of the local authority library system, or the borrowers, facing any cost. Local authorities are under sufficient financial pressure without this being laid at their doors. To attach any such charge to the system would run contrary to its principle.

I am aware that the Oireachtas cannot fetter any future Government but we should make clear that no charge would ever be imposed on the borrower or the local authority. I would oppose such a move. The integrity of the public library system must be maintained. I was a member of a local authority for the past three years. One of the greatest achievements of our society and of local authorities is to have a publicly accessible, properly funded library system. This is at the heart of any democracy or civilisation. Nothing should be done that would financially compromise or imperil that system.

The principal Act, which I have read quickly, seems to suggest that books are not the only works lent. What are the commercial implications of the lending of DVDs and film as opposed to those works which the Irish Writers Union rightly protects? I understand Senator Quinn's point but there is no such thing as a deserving or undeserving writer. All writers have to sell their books.

This amending legislation does not exempt educational institutions from the proposal. If I understand the Minister of State correctly, he intends to propose an amendment on Committee Stage to remove educational institutions from the legislation. I have not read the judgment of the European Court of Justice but can the Minister of State make this amendment? If the judgment states that we must provide for authors to receive money for the lending of their books by public libraries, is there anything to suggest that if their books are placed in the UCD or Trinity libraries, they will not receive the same fee?

I too congratulate the Leas-Chathaoirleach on his election today. I welcome this technical and uncontentious Bill which provides for a fair deal for artists and owners of intellectual property and so encourages creativity and invention. I agree with those speakers today who have paid tribute to the role of public libraries. The state-of-the-art library in Malahide, however, cannot be opened because of a Government embargo on recruitment. The people in Malahide and Portmarnock will be looking in the windows of their library for the next few weeks to see what a wonderful facility it is.

While this is not the responsibility of the Minister of State who is present today, I ask him to report to the Government that such embargoes on recruitment cannot be applied across the board. This makes absolutely no economic sense and I ask him to take back from this House the message that this is not acceptable.

I welcome the new Members, namely, Senators Boyle, Bacik, Alex White, Ryan, Prendergast and de Búrca and wish them many years of satisfactory public service in the Seanad. I am sure some of them will go further in the years ahead.

As for the present debate, I have listened with great interest to the comments made in the House. Many issues have been raised that will be examined and considered in greater depth on Committee Stage. In response to one question raised, I can confirm it is envisaged the scheme will be funded from the Exchequer. Another question pertained to retrospection and none is intended in this regard. As for Senator Bacik's question regarding a cap, such a cap will be included in the regulations.

Senator Ross raised the question of an advisory board, as well as issues regarding the regulations. Although he is not in the Chamber at present, I can provide some examples as I have a list to hand of what will be included in the system. The public lending remuneration scheme to be introduced will be based on the United Kingdom model and will involve a system of individual payments to authors based on actual loans. The rate of payment will depend on the contribution of the individual. While the rate of payment per loan has yet to be decided on, it may be in the range from 10 cent to 15 cent and minimum and maximum payments will be determined. Authors will be required to register for whatever payment is being claimed and the regulations will contain other conditions. Senator Ross has returned to the Chamber. I have just mentioned the clarifications he sought on the regulations.

I thank the Minister of State.

As for the inclusion of CDs and DVDs in the public lending remuneration scheme, for administrative reasons the scheme will apply to books only in the first instance. However, the legislation allows for the extension of public lending rights to other works at a later date. This is included in the proposed new section 42A(2)(a) contained in section 7 of the Bill.

Senator Alex White raised a question regarding the exemption of educational establishments and it is intended to continue this exemption. I am satisfied this will not conflict with the European Court of Justice, ECJ, judgment, as the directive allows for the exemption of certain categories of lending institutions, which could include schools, colleges and other educational establishments.

Another question was raised as to the reason the Government took so long to introduce this Bill. Although Ireland transposed the lending directive in 2000, the issue the Commission took up with us is that we incorrectly transposed the directive. At the time, based on legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General, the Government's understanding was the transposition was correct and the exemptions were justified. However, since January 2007, it has been known definitively that this view is incorrect. The judgment of the ECJ has made this clear, which is the reason the Government has introduced this Bill and intends to deal with it quickly. Were it not for the general election, it would have been passed before the summer.

I hope I have covered most of the points raised. Hopefully the Committee Stage debate will take place next week and Members' questions may be dealt with in greater detail. I hope for rapid progress on the Bill's enactment and I look forward to working with Members to achieve this objective.

Question put and declared carried.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

Is that agreed? Agreed.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 3 October 2007.