New legislation[1] recently enacted modernises copyright law in Ireland to reflect the “digital era” giving greater rights to intellectual property (“IP”) holders, including easier access to remedies through the courts. This legislation reflects some of the recommendations highlighted by the Copyright Review Committee in its 2013 Report, “Modernising Copyright”.

  1. JurisdictionThe Act aims to make it easier for creators of IP to enforce their rights through the courts. Under the Act the District and Circuit Courts now have jurisdiction to hear and determine IP claims. This is a welcome development for IP holders as the improved jurisdiction of the lower courts will ensure they can obtain relief in a timely and cost effective manner. Previously, remedies for IP infringement were traditionally associated with the commercial list of the High Court, which may have acted as a deterent to right holders due to the high costs. The new jurisdiction will broaden the scope for enforcement of IP rights beyond larger companies,allowing small and medium sized enterprises to balance the value of a potential claim against a much lower cost of enforcement.
  2. Rights of Exclusive LicenseeThe Act also provides an exclusive licensee with the same rights as the owner of the IP in relation to infringement proceedings. As a result, an exclusive licensee has the ability to pursue third parties for infringement in the same manner as if it were the owner of the IP itself. Previously, the ability to purse an infringement rested with the IP owner. However, the licensee should be mindful that such a right may be restricted by the terms of the license agreement, and should always consult the agreement prior to taking any action.
  3. Other Notable AmendmentsDuration of Copyright in design – The Act also strengthens the protection of copyright in designs by increasing the period of protection from 25 years to the lifetime of the author plus a further 70 years.

Fair Dealing”/ Exceptions – The Act revises and expands on the existing law on “fair dealing” and creates further exceptions to restrictions on the use of copyright material. The Act extends the exceptions to permit certain uses of copyright material as non–infringing under the Act. The Act permits the use of copyright material for the purposes of:

(a) reporting of current events in the media;

(b) caricature, parody or pastiche;

(c) displaying works in libraries and archives;

(d) data mining for non-commercial research;

(e) education (including distance learning), teaching or scientific research (provided the purposes are non-commercial)

The inclusion of the exception for data mining will allow greater access to data for the research community, thereby increasing the use of such techniques which will be of benefit for the production of greater services and products in the future.