The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (the "Department") has published the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018 (the "Bill") which seeks to make a number of amendments to the Irish Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 (the "Copyright Act").

The Bill takes account of some of the recommendations made in the 'Modernising Copyright' report issued by the Copyright Review Committee in October 2013 and also certain exceptions introduced by the Infosoc Directive. See our previous article on the Directive here and our article on the Copyright Review Committee here.

The Department has stated that the purpose of the Bill is to make better provision for copyright and other IP protection in the digital era and enable rights holders to better enforce their IP in the courts.

Minister Humphreys noted that he was "delighted to see the potential for musicians, authors, photographers, other creators and owners of trade marks to better defend their work from infringement where those cases are too small to pursue through the High Court".

The amendments proposed by the Bill include:

  • granting of jurisdiction to the District Court and Circuit Court to hear and determine certain intellectual property claims including certain claims under the Patents Act 1992, the Trade Marks Act 1996 and Industrial Designs Act 2001 ( with such claims specifically being identified in the Bill);
  • creating an exception for text and data mining by a person with lawful access to the work and where it is done for a non-commercial purposes and with sufficient acknowledgement;
  • creating an exception for use of a work for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche;
  • extending the fair dealing defence to use of a work on current, economic, political or religious matters or similar matters by the media industry;
  • expanding the educational use exception to permit use of digital works in the classroom or through access to secure school networks;
  • facilitating persons with disabilities getting access to works including by expanding the disability exception to use new technologies to adapt works to the needs of persons with a disability;
  • making it an infringement to tamper with the 'rights identifying information' embedded or otherwise incorporated into the work – for instance to tamper with the metadata associated with a photographic work
  • amending the term of copyright in designs from 25 years to the life of the creator plus 70 years.

Minister Humphries has stated that he expects that the Bill will be progressed through the House of the Oireachtas in the coming months.

The express allocation of jurisdiction to the lower courts to hear certain IP claims is to be commended as the high cost of IP litigation is often a barrier to claims being pursued in Ireland and IP being adequately protected.

Further discussion in relation to the Copyright Review Committee's recommendations of having a specialist IP court at Circuit Court level would also be welcomed.