"Anything you can do, we can do better?" Ireland joins the copyright review queue

St Columba started the trend, daringly copying a restricted-
access public domain work.  If he lived today, would he be
the patron saint of Google Book and Wikileaks?
It's not just the Brits who have decided to reassess their IP rules in the not-quite-so-new-any-more internet age: the Irish are doing it too. In "Firms hampered by failure to keep law up to date with internet age", eminent scholar and lawyer TJ McIntyre argues in the Irish Times that much of the Irish law governing the internet is archaic, restrictive and hampers growth, which explains why the Taoiseach (Irish for 'prime minister' or, the Kat understands, an old Erse term for 'man who graciously accepts the credit when things work out but gets first choice at blaming someone else when things don't') has announced his support for a review of European and Irish copyright law, stating [and does this sound familiar, anyone?] “it is time to review our copyright legislation, and examine the balance between the rights holder and the consumer, to ensure that our innovative companies operating in the digital environment are not disadvantaged against competitors”. The article continues:
"This is a welcome development for the Irish internet industry, which has argued for some time that copyright reform would be desirable. It follows a seminar last month, hosted by Digital Rights Ireland, Google and the Institute of International and European Affairs, where speakers from businesses such as Boards.ie, UPC and Google pointed out the practical problems copyright laws can create.

In particular, one of the reasons why the US has been so successful at encouraging internet innovation is that US copyright law includes a doctrine known as fair use. This permits the use of portions of a copyrighted work so long as the normal economic exploitation of the work is not undermined.

Irish law, by comparison, has no equivalent to the flexible doctrine of fair use. Instead, there is a finite and restrictive list of exceptions to copyright, hampering the ability of Irish businesses to develop new forms of internet services.

Reform of the law – if it addresses this and similar issues – will help promote the growth of new businesses in this area and avoid the loss of jobs to more internet-friendly jurisdictions, such as the US.

However, this is not a uniquely Irish development. It follows action at European Union level and in other countries such as Britain. Last month, David Cameron said UK copyright laws were out of date and needed to be reviewed to “make them fit for the internet age”.

The Irish Government will have to move quickly to avoid falling behind Britain and other European bodies that have taken the initiative in this area.... [the article then discusses the need to reexamine online rules for defamation]".
The IPKat thinks that the timing of this review is brilliant.  Since Ireland's copyright laws so closely resemble those of the UK, both pro- and anti-copyright lobbyists can use the same submissions twice over, so long as they remember to get the name of the right country at the top.  Merpel says, I'm just trying to imagine where Google would be today if it hadn't been restricted by all these tiresomely old-fashioned copyright laws in countries like the UK and Ireland; it would probably be quite a big business now, not just a little hole-in-the-corner search engine ...

Irish Patents Office web page -- which at the time of posting of this item has no details of the review -- here

Thanks to Deirdre Kilroy (LK Shields) for the link!
"Anything you can do, we can do better?" Ireland joins the copyright review queue "Anything you can do, we can do better?" Ireland joins the copyright review queue Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. There should be a new term for Governments that have been got at by Google. Like that advert "you've been Tangoed".

  2. Considering Google's IP transfer pricing tactics to avoid paying any meaningful company tax in Ireland (or anywhere else, for that matter) "Double-Irished and Dutch-Sandwiched" sounds both appropriate and naughty enough.


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