Before we commence, I wish to remind Members that a Senator may speak only once on Report Stage, except the proposer of an amendment who may reply to the discussion of the amendment. Also, on Report Stage each amendment must be seconded.
Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007: Report and Final Stages.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 3, to delete lines 23 and 24 and substitute the following:
"(3) The collective citation "the Local Government Acts 1925 to 2007" includesPart 3.”.
This is essentially a technical amendment. I still have a concern with the collective citation of "the Local Government Acts 1925 to 2007". As I understand it, the Water Services Act 2007 has already created a collective citation of the Local Government Acts 1925 to 2007. Therefore, we already have such a collective citation, which comprehends the Water Services Act 2007. The latter Act has not yet commenced but its collective citation does not require commencement as such and, therefore, it is deemed to have commenced on enactment. We are left with a situation whereby, unless this amendment is accepted, an anomaly could arise. I accept it is a technical amendment, which may not detain the House for as long as other matters. Nonetheless, because the Water Services Act 2007 is in place, an anomaly could arise by having two inconsistent citations in reference to the Local Government Acts in future.
I have taken further advice on this issue, which indicates that since the collective citation for the Local Government Acts now extends to 2007 — even though there is no Local Government Act 2007 — by law, the citation, as proposed in the amendment, is more correct and, accordingly, I propose to accept the amendment.
I am grateful to the Minister of State for accepting the amendment.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 3, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:
"(4) This Act(other than section 7) shall come into operation on the first making of regulations under section 42A of the Principal Act inserted by section 7.”.
I wish to repeat the concern I raised on the last occasion. This amendment deals not so much with a technical issue as with a matter of some substance. There is not a commencement order in the Bill, so in the normal fashion it will commence on enactment. Under the terms of the Bill that means existing exemptions in the principal Act will be repealed. While the exemptions are gone, in the normal run of events it will presumably take the Minister some time to produce regulations to be made under the new lending scheme as envisaged in section 7. That would appear to leave libraries in a legal limbo between the enactment of this legislation and the issuance of regulations to be prepared by the Minister. Will the Minister of State assure the House that the regulations are either already prepared or will be prepared prior to the enactment of this Bill? That seems to be a big ask for the Minister of State to give such an undertaking, so I will await his reply in that regard.
If the new regulations are not in place when this Bill is enacted, there will clearly be a gap. There will be a period of time following the enactment of the Bill — which will remove the exemptions — during which we must await regulations governing the new lending scheme, which is the principal purpose of this amending legislation. I suggest a commencement provision is required, which would allow section 7 to operate immediately, while the repeals would only come into operation on the making of the regulations. That would seem to meet my concern, otherwise libraries might be forced to stop lending books until the regulations were made. That is the implication of not accepting this amendment, which is an attempt to deal with the problem by plugging the gap.
The amendment proposes the inclusion of a new subsection 1(4) which would mean the Act would not commence on enactment but when the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government introduces regulations bringing into operation a public lending remuneration scheme. Senators raised this issue on Committee Stage but as I indicated then it is imperative that the legislation come into effect as soon as the Oireachtas passes it. As evidenced by the decision of the European Court of Justice against Ireland last January, we are in default of our obligations under the EU directive on rental and lending and it is incumbent on us to come into compliance with the decision as soon as possible.
The Commission is pursuing Ireland under Article 228 of the treaty. These proceedings are advancing and can lead to the imposition of heavy monetary fines against the State unless remedial action is taken quickly. Our immediate obligation is to provide an exclusive lending right for authors and this right will be replaced by a right to remuneration on introduction of a public lending remuneration scheme but it is not possible to await that development given our immediate obligations under the directive.
On Committee Stage it was indicated that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government was working towards making regulations, possibly as soon as the end of this year with a view to having the scheme operational from 2009, with the possibility of making payments in respect of part of 2008. This undertaking should go a long way to providing a clear signal of the Government's intentions in this regard.
Senators were concerned about the exposure for public libraries in the period between enactment of the legislation and the introduction of the scheme because authors might exercise their exclusive right and prevent their books being lent in the public libraries. I have met representatives from the Irish writers' representative organisation and it is my understanding that they are satisfied their public lending rights are being recognised, albeit late. With the public lending remuneration scheme well within view it is unlikely that authors will decide to exercise the exclusive right that will obtain in the interregnum.
Public libraries spend significant sums of money in book stock each year which yields a reward for authors. This is particularly important for less well-known authors for whom the public libraries are a major customer. For example, public libraries will spend more than €15 million in purchasing books in 2007, an increase of 10% over 2006. Continuing investment by public libraries in book stock will result in a total expenditure of €75 million in the period 2002-07.
The compelling rationale for this legislation remains and it must be enacted as soon as logistically possible. For this reason I cannot accept the amendment.
Nobody argues with what the Minister of State describes as "the compelling rationale" for the legislation. We on this side of the House understand and support it. The Minister of State has not, however, dealt with the possibility of a limbo situation arising. The only reassurance he offers the House is that he thinks it unlikely that authors would seek to exercise a right in the interregnum. I have no doubt he has been in touch with the Irish Writers Union but no organisation can bind every writer to a particular agreement.
The Minister of State ought to have considered that this is a real prospect. The amendment would still allow the legislation to be put in place. It would simply give the Minister of State a mechanism to ensure we can have both and there is no gap. The word "unlikely" is not good enough and to say regulations will "possibly" be produced by the end of the year is not sufficient to deal with the problem.
Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 will be discussed together by agreement.
I move amendmentNo. 3:
In page 6, line 34, after "establishment" to insert the following:
", subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the Minister,".
We dealt with educational establishments on Committee Stage when the Minister of State correctly pointed out that there is a definition of educational establishments in the principal Act. There is, however, a basis for considering this amendment. The purpose is to limit the blanket exemption for educational establishments. We suggest limiting it by giving power to the Minister to prescribe conditions for the loans. This does not take from the legislation but adds to its effect. While the definition in the 2000 Act may be sufficient to limit the scope of the exemption to some extent, the lack of specific conditions is a matter for concern. What is to stop a prescribed institution, as defined in the principal Act, lending works to persons who are not its students? The practice is for educational libraries to lend only to their students but is there anything that prevents a disreputable educational institution lending to all and sundry? This bears further scrutiny and the Minister should have the power to put in place these conditions.
Sections 8 and 12, as amended on Committee Stage, provide an exemption for educational establishments from the provisions for public lending. This exemption provides continuity because educational establishments were already exempt under the 2000 Act. It is necessary to ensure that our schools, colleges and universities continue as rich sources of learning and research unfettered by any requirement to observe public lending rights. The amendments proposed appear to attempt to qualify the exemption and involve the responsible Minister in prescribing conditions under which such establishments can lend books. Any such qualification is unnecessary, hence I do not propose to accept these amendments.
I move amendmentNo. 4:
In page 7, line 19, before "of" where it firstly occurs, to insert the following:
", subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the Minister,".
This is the same as amendment No. 3. In deference to Senator Callely's existential concerns about how we do business here, we have already dealt with the substance of the amendment and I will not press it.
I thank Senator Alex White especially for his interest in the legislation. I and my officials have noted the views he has expressed. We will return to the Bill in the Dáil. I thank him and all the other Senators for their contributions. It is important that Ireland comes into compliance with the EU directives or there will be a large fine to pay. It is also important for authors to receive the remuneration to which they are entitled.
I thank the staff of the Bills Office and the Seanad, as well as my officials, for the efficient work they have carried out on this legislation.
I wish to record my appreciation of the introduction of the Bill to this House by my good friend, the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Michael Ahern. I also wish to thank his officials. I thank the Minister of State for his co-operation and I wish him success and a speedy process of enactment for the legislation.
I also wish to record my appreciation. The Minister of State will recall I tabled two amendments on Committee Stage. One concerned the establishment of the board and the other concerned limiting to 10% or less the amount of moneys generated to be spent on administration. While I considered tabling them again on Report Stage, I consulted the bodies that had briefed me and they expressed their satisfaction with the clear and specific reassurances provided by the Minister of State. Consequently, I thought it would be futile and a waste of the House's time to table them again. I am grateful the Minister of State acted in such a co-operative spirit.
I also thank the Minister for his attention to the contributions made in this House in respect of this Bill.
I thank the Minister and his officials. This is a worthy Bill and I am delighted it has been passed easily in this House.