Copyright has to change – the hard question is how
Huge business issue is also social and cultural milestone
There’s one overriding reason copyright is on so many national agendas. Reform is being driven by a fundamental shift between the time when current laws were drafted, and today: the arrival of the internet. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
It has been a long road, but at last it looks as if we are moving closer to meaningful and, potentially, quite transformative copyright reform in Ireland.
It has taken two years but, after extensive consultation, consideration of a wide range of submissions from groups and individuals, and further feedback, the Government-
appointed Copyright Review Committee has published its report, Modernising Copyright (available here: http://iti.ms/1cDXCrH)
Copyright reform seems to be in the air internationally, with reconsiderations of this always fraught topic under way in the the UK,
the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, India and – of
direct relevance to the Irish situation – the EU.
There’s one overriding reason it is on so many national agendas. Reform is being driven by a fundamental shift between the time when current laws were drafted, and today: the
arrival of the internet.
In a digital era, when the effort of making a copy has become trivial, and the potential to publish globally constrained primarily by how fast someone can click a mouse, copyright needs to
And this needs to be done with a consideration of the viewpoints of those who create, those who publish and those who wish to share, use or transform existing works.
There are some obvious applications – how copyright should serve those who, say, create a photograph or a piece of music or writing that is made available online. But the universe of relevance for copyright is much broader.
What considerations should pertain to sharing material? To linking to it? To using an excerpt for a search engine or a post on a discussion board? To incorporating others’ creative work into a new work?
And what about writing software and using and building upon existing ideas or code? Digital innovation in this area almost always is a further development of something that already exists. How much transformation makes something new rather than a plagiarised copy?
What is the best legal process for dealing with questions and legal actions? Should there be a separate system for handling such specialised complaints?
Attempting to answer such questions has made the report’s gestation process a long one. There were two public meetings, an initial set of 100 submissions that resulted in a consultation paper early last year, and another 180 submissions following the paper’s
publication. All that has gone into the final report.