Wednesday, 14 February 1996
Dáil Éireann Debate
128. Mr. Lawlor asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the plans, if any, he has to introduce home recordings royalties as they exist in almost all other EU countries, in order to directly benefit Irish composers, artists and music publishers; his views on whether this initiative will open the door to reciprocal royalty agreements with other EU countries currently precluded by our current position; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Irish music industry sources place the level of Irish interest in the huge German market at between four per cent and six per cent with consequentially important potential revenue availability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3136/96]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): The issue of home recording royalties is one of the many subjects which is currently being examined in depth by the Intellectual Property Unit of my Department in the context of a comprehensive review of Irish copyright law. It is also an issue which is being examined by the European Commission and by the Committees of Experts working on a possible Protocol to the Berne Convention and a possible new Instrument on the Rights of Performers and Producers of Phonograms.
When these bodies have concluded their examination of this very difficult subject and come forward with recommendations the Government will decide on whether or not to introduce home recording royalties into Irish copyright law.
The introduction of royalties places real costs on domestic users of tapes and recording equipment. It may also diminish the exclusive nature of the authors' existing rights to control reproduction. This might not be in the long-term interests of Irish composers, artists and music publishers and may, indeed, work to their detriment. For this reason alone I do not propose to rush into a decision on this issue which could have detrimental effects on both consumers and the music industry at large.
I am aware of the huge level of interest in Irish music overseas and the possibilities for revenue generation for the industry from that source. However, I am also aware that the vast majority of music played and audiovisual material used in Ireland and taped onto blank tapes is not of Irish origin and any reciprocal arrangements could lead to large outflows of money from the Irish economy. Whilst it is extremely difficult to quantify the precise level of this out-flow I am fairly sure that the overall result would be substantially negative from an Irish economic point of view.
It is the intention of the Minister directly concerned, the Minister for Commerce, Science and Technology,  that the work of the Intellectual Property Unit will proceed in tandem with the work of the European Commission and the groups of experts and will lead to a balanced recommendation on how to deal with this difficult question. He would then propose to incorporate any legislative proposals that might emanate from these groups in the new Copyright Bill which is currently being prepared in the Department.
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