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Sherlock confirms that ‘Irish SOPA’ has been signed into law

The Junior Minister has confirmed that the controversial statutory instrument regarding online copyright has been signed into law today.

Junior Minister Seán Sherlock
Junior Minister Seán Sherlock
Image: James Horan/Photocall Ireland

JUNIOR MINISTER SEÁN Sherlock has this afternoon confirmed that the controversial statutory instrument that reinforces online copyright laws in Ireland has been signed into law.

The controversial ‘Irish SOPA’ legislation was the subject of much debate last month amid concerns it would limit internet freedom. Today Sherlock confirmed that the European Union (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2012 has been signed into law.

The statutory instrument will make it possible for copyright holders to seek court injunctions against companies such as internet service providers or social networks whose systems are hosting copyright-infringing material.

Sherlock, the Minister for Research and Innovation, acknowledged in his statement today that prior to signing the statutory instrument there had been a call for it to be more detailed and prescriptive.

But he said that the High Court now has “significant guidance” from the European Court of Justice regarding the implementation of the measure.

According to the Department of Jobs, Innovation and Skills, it will be now up to the court to ensure that any remedy provided will uphold the freedom of internet service providers, or ISPs, to conduct their business.

It will also have to offer an “absolute requirement” that an ISP cannot be mandated to carry out monitoring of the information it carries. It must also ensure that measures implemented are “fair and proportionate” and not “unnecessarily complicated or costly”.

It also states that fundamental rights of an ISPs’ customers must be respected by the court including their right to protection of their personal data and their freedom to receive or impart information.

Copyright review

In conjunction with the announcement that the statutory instrument has been signed, Sherlock said that he was launching the next stage of the Copyright Review Committee which is “aimed at removing barriers to innovation”.

“On many previous occasions I have outlined the reasons why it is necessary for us to proceed to sign this Statutory Instrument in order to ensure compliance with our obligations under EU law,” Sherlock said in a statement.

“As there are clearly many diverse interests, it is important that interested parties come together and work in a constructive way to map the path forward.

“For this reason I am particularly anxious that the consultation paper launched today is studied and comprehensively responded to by all interested parties.

“The challenge now is to examine what measures we can take to develop Ireland’s laws in this area in such a way as to provide the greatest possible encouragement for innovation in the creative and digital industries to take place here.”

In launching the consultation paper from the Copyright Review Committee, Sherlock said he hoped it would contribute to a debate that would establish Irish copyright law “on a firm footing”.

“I am committed to reviewing and updating the Copyright legislation currently in place in order to strike the correct balance between encouraging innovation and protecting creativity.

“This paper has been prepared by the Copyright Review Committee in response to submissions received and public engagement.

“I urge all interested parties, including information providers and ISPs, innovators, rights holders, consumers and end-users, to study it carefully and engage in a constructive debate on all the issues,” he added.

In full: Seán Sherlock’s draft proposals for online copyright law

Explainer: How can ministers sign laws without Dáil approval?

Read: Everything you need to know about Ireland’s SOPA >

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