Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
11. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide an update on the proposal to amend the law arising from the decision of the High Court in the case of EMI versus UPC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28822/11]
Deputy Sean Sherlock: My Department recently carried out a public consultation in regard to this matter. The consultation document set out the background to the matter arising from the judgment issued by Mr. Justice Charleton in the High Court in the case of EMI Records (Ireland) Limited and others v. UPC Communications Ireland Limited. It indicated that it had been considered heretofore that injunctions, as required under Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, known as the copyright or info soc directive, were already available in Irish law under subsection 40(4) of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.
However, in the judgment referred to, Mr. Justice Charleton held that he was constrained by the wording of the 2000 Act and could not grant an injunction, as sought, in regard to infringement of copyright against an information service provider in the circumstances of “mere conduit”, as set out in the EU e-commerce directive, 2000/31/EC. Accordingly, and for the avoidance of doubt, the consultation document indicated that it was considered necessary to restate Ireland’s compliance with the directives concerned. In proposing to do so, it was pointed out that the Department was particularly conscious of the importance of online content and digital businesses in the Irish context and that, accordingly, it was simply seeking to ensure Ireland’s continued compliance with its obligations under the relevant EU directives, following the decision of the High Court in the aforementioned UPC case.
The consultation document also contained the text of a proposal to amend the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, by means of a statutory instrument under section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972, which had been drawn up after careful consideration and in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General. Arising from the public consultation, more than 50 submissions were received from interested parties. Several of these submissions contained legal argument in regard to the issue, including, in at least one case, advice of senior counsel, as well as detailed comments in respect of the draft statutory instrument which was published as part of the consultation process. These comments are being considered by my Department in conjunction with its legal adviser and the Attorney General’s office.
Deputy Willie O’Dea: The court case in question took place more than a year ago, since which we have been in something of a vacuum. There are thousands of jobs at stake, including 1,600 in Xtra-vision alone, not to mention all the other jobs in related areas. Moreover, looking to the future, it is the centrepiece of the Government’s economic policy to create jobs in the digital games area and so on. It is ten weeks since the Minister of State initiated the consultation process, which is welcome. I am asking, on behalf of the industry, and on behalf of the workers in particular, when the matter will be resolved.
Deputy Sean Sherlock: I will not be held to a timetable because I want to give this matter the fullest consideration. There is more work to be done between my Department and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Given that I have been in office only since March, I reserve the right to take more time on this issue. I do not accept the argument that there are jobs at stake. It is an issue on which there is an interaction between rights holders, the “mere conduits”— that is, the Internet service providers, ISPs — and the end users, of whom there are millions. We must ensure that we get the balance right and that the legislation is correct. I am conscious of the Deputy’s point regarding the gaming industry and Xtra-vision, but I intend to make haste slowly on this issue.
Deputy Willie O’Dea: I understand the Minister of State has had a meeting with the organisation representing ISPs. Is he prepared to meet representatives of the Irish Recorded Music Association, IRMA?
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