You may recall that during the whole nasty business with our own SOPA and PIPA, there was a similar law going through the rounds in Ireland. This “Irish SOPA” faced heavy resistance from many within the Irish and global community while Anonymous launched #OpIreland in protest.
Unfortunately, it appears that these efforts were in vain as Minister of Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock has confirmed that the European Union (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2012 was signed into law according to a post on the Irish Labour Party Web site.
Now that the bill is signed and made law, Sherlock urges Irish citizens to move onto better things. What better things? He says to “focus now on making Ireland a model of international best practice for innovation, and ensuring that our copyright laws facilitate the achievement of this goal.” As part of this renewed focus on innovation, Sherlock also announced the next stage of the Copyright Review Committee, which seeks to update Ireland’s copyright legislation in the name of “removing barriers to innovation.”
Sherlock admits that there was a bit of concern over how vague the bill was and that it might be abused by content holders. He assures the citizenry that the High Court, who will be in charge of any legal cases brought forth by this bill, is receiving “significant guidance” from the Euroepean Court of Justice. Any cases regarding this new law will have to abide by certain rules:
Freedom to conduct a business enjoyed by operators such as ISPs;
The absolute requirement that an ISP cannot be required to carry out general monitoring on the information it carries on its network;
Any measures must be fair and proportionate and not be unnecessarily complicated or costly;
The fundamental rights of an ISPs’ customers must be respected, namely their right to protection of their personal data and their freedom to receive or impart information.
Sherlock made a lengthy statement about the law and what it means for the Internet industry in Ireland. I think it’s appropriate to reprint his statement in full:
“I believe that in Ireland we must build on our very substantial achievements in the creative and digital media industry, and become a model of international best practice for innovation in this area. Ireland is home to some of the world’s most innovative Internet companies, and we are determined to grow our reputation as a location where smart people and smart companies can innovate in this fast-moving arena.”
“On many previous occasions I have outlined the reasons why it is necessary for us to proceed to sign this Statutory Instrument in order to ensure compliance with our obligations under EU law. As there are clearly many diverse interests, it is important that interested parties come together and work in a constructive way to map the path forward. For this reason I am particularly anxious that the consultation paper launched today is studied and comprehensively responded to by all interested parties.”
“The challenge now is to examine what measures we can take to develop Ireland’s laws in this area in such a way as to provide the greatest possible encouragement for innovation in the creative and digital industries to take place here.”
“This is a very complex area of law, which affects industries that are developing at lightning pace, and where the interests of many diverse and changing parties interact with each other. My ambition to make Ireland a model of international best practice in this area will not be easily achieved, and as this debate develops I urge all interested parties on all sides to come together and work in a constructive and realistic way to the benefit of all.”
“In that context, I am happy to launch the consultation paper of the Copyright Review Committee. I am committed to reviewing and updating the Copyright legislation currently in place in order to strike the correct balance between encouraging innovation and protecting creativity. This paper has been prepared by the Copyright Review Committee in response to submissions received and public engagement. I urge all interested parties, including information providers and ISPs, innovators, rights holders, consumers and end-users, to study it carefully and engage in a constructive debate on all the issues.”
“This is a valuable opportunity for all interested parties to express their views and to make a meaningful contribution towards shaping the future development of Irish copyright law. I am confident that the work being carried out by the Copyright Review Committee, with the interaction and input of the interested parties, will result in establishing Irish copyright law on a firm footing to encourage innovation, foster creativity and meet the challenges of the future with confidence”.
There’s sure to be more protests and outrage at the signing of this bill. Its opponents are not going to go down without a fight.
Speaking of fights, angry citizens have already taken to Sherlock's Facebook page to protest the law.
What do you think? Does Sherlock make a compelling argument in regard to the need for new copyright laws? Or do you think this was the wrong way to go? Let us know in the comments.