The Government has transposed the EU’s Copyright Directive, which updates copyright rules to take account of advances in technology, into Irish law.
The directive aims to ensure that creators – including journalists and authors – receive appropriate payment for the online use of their work.
In July, the European Commission had opened infringement procedures against Ireland, and a number of other member states, over a lack of progress in implementing the directive.
“From now on in Ireland, press publishers such as newspapers have a new legal right in relation to the use of their content by online-service providers,” said Leo Varadkar (Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment).
“In the absence of an agreement with publishers, online platforms will not be permitted to make use of their work, though they will continue to be able to use hyperlinks or very short extracts,” he added.
It will be up to the publisher and the online provider to come to an agreement.
The new law also aims to strengthen the position of authors and performers who make an agreement to transfer the rights of their work, by requiring the following principles to be followed:
- A right to appropriate and proportionate payment,
- A 'transparency obligation' to help them access more information about how their work is being used,
- A 'contract adjustment mechanism' to enable them to obtain a fair share when the payment originally agreed becomes disproportionately low, compared to the success of their work or performance,
- A 'right of revocation', allowing them to take back their rights when their works are not being used.
Future of Media Commission
The new law also provides for exceptions, to allow copyright-protected material online to be used for the purposes of education, research and “the preservation of cultural heritage”.
This area of the legislation clarifies the responsibilities of institutions such as museums, allowing them to continue to make some copyright-protected works available to the public.
The Tánaiste said that the announcement made today (19 November) was part of a broader discussion on the future of media in Ireland. He indicated that the Government would act “shortly” on a report recently submitted to it by the Future of Media Commission.
The commission was set up to look at the challenges faced by public-service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, print, and online-media platforms.