The Act which makes a number of significant amendments to the Irish Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 (the "Copyright Act") was signed into law back on 26 June 2019 but did not commence on that date and practitioners and clients have been eagerly awaiting its commencement since. We previously discussed the draft Bill here.

The Act was commenced in its entirety with the exception of Sections 2(1), 9 and 21. These sections will instead automatically come into operation 6 months following the passing of the Act (i.e. on 26 December 2019.)

The Act has implemented a number of recommendations made by the Copyright Review Committee in their 2013 Report and also made a number of court jurisdiction amendments to the Patents Act 1992, the Trade Marks Act 1996 and Industrial Designs Act 2001.

The amendments 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 Act);
  • amending the term of copyright in designs from 25 years to the life of the creator plus 70 years. This new term of copyright in designs and artistic works will come into operation on 26 December 2019. There is a transitional period provided where certain acts will be permitted if they are carried out pursuant to a contract that was entered into prior to 26 December 2019;
  • 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 that relates to any current, economic, political or religious matter or similar matter provided it is a communication made by a media business to the public under certain criteria;
  • extension of the fair dealing defence to performances for the purposes of education, research or private study or for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche;
  • affording licensees of copyright the same rights and remedies available to copyright holders to pursue copyright infringement claims. Previously only the copyright holder could take such proceedings;
  • creating an exception for copying a work in the context of 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. However, it is infringement if such copy of the work is transferred to any other person without the copyright owner's consent, or where the copy of the work is used for a commercial purpose;
  • providing that the term of copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or an original database expires 70 years after the death of the author, irrespective of the date on which the work or first lawfully make available to the public or now whether the work is ever lawfully made available to the public;
  • providing that the author of "soundtracks accompanying the film" is now deemed to be the producer and the principal director;
  • providing that the concept of the work for the purpose of infringement now includes "rights identifying information embedded or otherwise incorporated in the work". For instance, it will be an infringement to tamper with the metadata associated with a photographic work;
  • expanding the educational use exception to permit use of digital works in the classroom or through access to secure school networks; and
  • facilitating persons with disabilities getting access to works including by expanding the disability exception to the use of new technologies to adapt works to the needs of persons with a disability.

It is important to be aware of these extensive changes made by the Act to the Copyright Act and to various other Irish IP legislative provisions and the effect they may have on a business.

The express allocation of jurisdiction to the lower courts to hear certain IP claims has been widely welcomed by the IP community as the costs of pursing High Court litigation can often operate as a bar to many clients in both pursuing and defending claims in Ireland and thus to the adequate protection and enforcement of IP generally in Ireland.

In line with the recommendations made by the Copyright Review Committee in 2013, further discussion on the creation of a specialist IP court at Circuit Court level is welcome to deal with such IP claims efficiently.