Copyright law confusion hinders firms, event told


SOCIAL MEDIA multinationals such as Google and Facebook are restricted from moving core search and aggregation functions to Ireland because of confusion about copyright legislation, it was claimed yesterday.

TJ McIntyre, a lecturer in law at UCD, made the claim at a public meeting in Trinity College Dublin hosted yesterday by a committee set up to review copyright law.

Brian Fallon, founder of Distilled Media, the publisher of, also told the meeting that the news website wanted to avail of the feed-merging techniques used by US-based niche content providers such as Business Insider and the sports site Bleacher Report.

“Yet if we really want to pursue them properly, we would have to locate in the US,” he said.

The copyright review committee, which is chaired by Trinity law lecturer Eoin O’Dell, is examining whether existing copyright legislation contains “barriers to innovation”. The review was announced by Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton in May.

Also speaking at the event, founder David Cochrane noted that links to its forums discussing a newspaper article often ranked higher in Google searches than the original article because was better at search engine optimisation.

“Journalists want their content to be talked about,” he said, adding that journalists from delayed-publish Sunday newspapers have contacted to alert them to their stories, in some instances sending an electronic copy to post on the site.

However, he said the legal copyright position was not clear. As a result of the News International pay wall, “we don’t talk about articles in The Sunday Timesat all”, he added.

Barry McCall, vice-president of the National Union of Journalists, said content creators “seem to be left out of the discussion” in the bid to make the law “more friendly for Google and Facebook”, while former minister for communications Eamon Ryan questioned the review’s terms of reference and said a broader approach was needed.

Dr O’Dell said submissions to the consultation process to date contained “a lot of questions” rather than recommendations. The closing date for submissions is July 14th.

A separate consultation is currently taking place on the “three strikes” rule in relation to the responsibilities of internet service providers to police online piracy.

The event was also attended by representatives of the National Newspapers of Ireland, the Irish Film Board, the Irish Recorded Music Association and the Irish Music Rights Organisation.