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Report of copyright review committee delayed to 2013

The independent Copyright Review Committee, examining possible changes to Irish law, will not report until March.

Sean Sherlock says a review of Irish copyright law is not now expected until March - having originally hoped it would be ready by the end of 2012.
Sean Sherlock says a review of Irish copyright law is not now expected until March - having originally hoped it would be ready by the end of 2012.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW committee set up by the government to investigate potential changes to copyright law has pushed back its target for publishing its report – and will now not publish its findings until next year.

The Copyright Review Committee was set up in May 2011 to examine the current Irish law and the barriers it may pose to online innovation – but rose to larger prominence earlier this year amid a controversy over Ireland’s current copyright legislation.

Junior minister Sean Sherlock has said the report of the group is now not expected until March of next year, having originally been earmarked for publication before the end of 2012.

The delay is thought to have resulted from the volume of public submissions received as part of the group’s consultation process, which was launched on the same day that the so-called ‘Irish SOPA’ was signed into law.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael’s Sean Kyne, Sherlock said the group had received about 180 submissions, some of which raised “many complex and substantial matters” that required full and formal appraisal.

“The Committee has indicated that it expects to present its final Report before March next year.”

In July, shortly after the deadline for submissions, Sherlock said he expected the report to  be published “before the end of 2012″.

The legislation prompted an unusual level of public outcry, with many comparing the legislation to the controversial SOPA and PIPA bills that were tabled in the US Congress a year ago, which would potentially have had the effect of blocking traffic to an entire website or domain because of a copyright infringement on one page.

The government argued, however, that the legislation was merely returning Irish law to the state it was thought to have been in before the High Court ruling.

Ireland already had legislation allowing copyright holders to secure injunctions against the hosts of websites which infringed their intellectual property, dating from 2004, but the High Court ruled that this was not an effective implementation of the EU’s E-commerce directive, requiring further action from the government.

Sherlock had told critics of the legislation that the independent committee’s work could result in a new legal system to supersede the existing model, including an incorporation of the ‘fair use’ doctrine which does not currently exist in Irish law.

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Gavan Reilly

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