News & Events

General Scheme of a Copyright Bill approved by Government

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor welcomes provisions of the Bill to service needs of persons with a disability

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms Mary Mitchell-O’Connor TD and Senator Martin Conway today welcomed Government approval for the drafting of a General Scheme of Bill entitled Copyright and Related Rights (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2016. Copyright protects creative outputs such as books, films, music, software, TV broadcasts etc. against acts such as copying or unauthorised reproduction. It seeks also to strike a balance with greater societal needs in the context of education, advancing research or to facilitate access to works for persons with a disability.

The Minister said that when enacted, the Copyright Bill will “allow teachers to display lines of poetry or display pictures on a whiteboard to illustrate a point for children using modern day technology such as whiteboards without fear of infringing copyright”. It will also facilitate distance learning and education over the internet, in line with the changing provision of education and training in Ireland.

The Minister was particularly pleased to welcome important provisions in the Bill to service the needs of persons with a disability. She said “the Bill contains important provisions to facilitate access to books etc. for persons with a disability”. The Bill will for instance allow an individual to make a personal copy of a work modified to meet their special needs. Moreover, designated bodies such as the National Council for the Blind will be able to make multiple copies of a work to meet the specific needs of persons with a disability and to share these with other designated bodies as well as directly to individuals. The Bill proposes a provision that introduces an anticipatory duty on publishers to make suitable copies of the work available to designated bodies on request. This will facilitate these bodies to make suitable modified copies available for persons with a disability. The Minister pointed out that “such improvements in the law reflect the need to create a more equitable society so that all persons can equally enjoy and partake in the delight of reading their preferred books of fact or fiction”.

The Minister noted also with satisfaction that these provisions will ultimately pave the way for ratification by Ireland of the international Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled. This Treaty is shortly to enter into effect with twenty signatory States. While Ireland has signed the Treaty, the ratification process at EU level is expected to be progressed with publication later in 2016 of legislative proposals to harmonise the Treaty provisions in all EU Member States. The Minister confirmed that her Department would work constructively alongside the European Commission to ensure the earliest possible date to facilitate ratification of the Treaty by the EU.

Senator Martin Conway welcoming the Bill added "Having campaigned over the last number of years for a solution to enable all citizens, including people with a print disability, access to printed material, I am delighted that the Government, at the initiative of Minister Mitchell O'Connor, is today announcing the approval of a Copyright Bill that will go a long way to making this happen. I am delighted also that the Minister has invited me to jointly launch this significant and historic Government initiative which will improve the lives of many Irish citizens. As the first member of the Oireachtas ever elected with vision impairment, I am particularly proud of this initiative".

Other important aspects of the Bill announced by the Minister aim to create an Innovative environment to allow businesses to grow and compete globally. Areas addressed include:


  • Improving access to the Courts system for intellectual property claims, in particular to facilitate lower value IP infringement cases to be brought before the District and Circuit courts;

  • Extension of existing copyright exceptions to promote non-commercial research including the introduction of a Text and Data Mining copyright exception into Irish law;

  • The extension of the existing copyright deposit provisions relating to books to facilitate the creation of a Digital Deposit on a voluntary basis;

  • creating an exception for use of copyright works to allow for caricature, satire and parody;

  • extending the concept of fair dealing in copyright works for purposes of news reporting;

  • making it an infringement, in the context of photographs, to tamper with metadata associated with the photographic works; and

allowing libraries, archives and educational institutions to make a copy of a work in its collection for preservation purposes and for catalogues for exhibitions etc.


  • Notes for Editors:

About the Bill:

The Bill is in response to a Report entitled “Modernising Copyright” published in October 2013, which was compiled by an independent Copyright Review Committee appointed in 2011.


Who was on the Copyright Review Committee?

The 3 person Committee comprised:

  • Dr. Eoin O’Dell of Trinity College, Dublin
  • Patricia McGovern of DFMG Solicitors
  • Professor Stephen Hedley of University College Cork

This work was undertaken on a pro bono basis.


What was the Committee asked to do?

  • The terms of reference of the Committee were:


  1. to identify areas of current Irish copyright legislation that might be deemed to create barriers to innovation and to propose solutions thereto and,

  2. to examine the US “fair use” doctrine to see if it would be appropriate in Irish law