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.