Independent TDs Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly have launched an online crowdsourcing process as part of their response to the Copyright Review Committee, which is tasked with overhauling Ireland’s copyright regime.

Murphy and Donnelly have prepared their draft report in collaboration with a group of industry experts: Digital Rights Ireland director Antoin O Lachtnain, Boards.ie co-founder Tom Murphy, and internet law expert and solicitor Simon McGarr.

The draft version of that report has been published online at a dedicated site: copyrightreform.ie. Using an innovative application called Digress.it, they are seeking feedback from the public. Digress.it allows people to comment on individual sections of the submission. People will also be able to add their signature to it.

They are also making the submission available in editable format to the public under the Irish Creative Commons Attribution licence. This means that anybody can take any part of the submission with which they agree and use that as the basis of their own submission to the Copyright Review Committee.

In other words, the submission will be a model of a crowd-sourced and open-source policy document, setting an example for how the policy process can be made collaborative and can encourage participation, in the public interest. Catherine Murphy TD said:

Ireland’s copyright regime is archaic and excessive, with barely any recognition in it of the public interest. We’ve decided to make a submission to the Copyright Review Committee in order to ensure that the public interest is fully represented in this process. And we thought the best way to do that would be to open our draft submission to the public for comment, in order to crowdsource the final report.

Stephen Donnelly TD said:

Copyright exists to protect intellectual property – but a healthy copyright regime also fosters innovation and serves the public interest. We believe the current law is imbalanced. Particularly following the Statutory Instrument brought in without consultation by Sean Sherlock earlier this year, there are a lot of concerns amongst the tech community and start-up sector that our copyright regime could be inhibiting innovation. Our submission, I hope, will help rebalance that.

Their draft recommendations are as follows.

The Government should:
1.    Ensure the right of free speech is a central element of the new copyright regime, including in the areas of parody and satire;
2.    Legalise legitimate forms of copying by introducing an explicit and broadly defined “Fair Use” policy;
3.    Ensure the extent of copyright ownership is balanced against the public good;
4.    Design a system which is clear to all parties, including end users;
5.    Design an enforcement mechanism which is easy to understand, transparent and accessible to all parties;
6.    Target penalties at those who infringe on copyright rather than on third parties such as intermediaries;
7.    Future-proof the new regime by basing it on applicable principles rather than rules relevant to today’s technology only;
8.    Make it easy for end-users to identify and engage with owners of copyright material.

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BACKGROUND

The Copyright Review Committee is chaired by Dr Eoin O’Dell (TCD School of Law) and was established in May 2011 by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to examine current copyright legislation and identify areas where reforms might be needed.

This joint submission has arisen from the leading advocacy work on the so-called ‘SOPA’ statutory instrument on internet copyright done by Murphy and Donnelly as Independent TDs in the Dáil, and by O Lachtnain, Murphy and McGarr as representatives of industry and civil society.

The Copyright Review Committee this week announced a limited extension of time for submissions till 29 June 2012, in the following two limited circumstances only, according to the Committee:
·    Parties who intend to make a submission to the Committee, but who feel that they cannot do so before the existing deadline of close of business Thursday 31 May 2012, should apply to the Committee before that date for an extension until close of business on Friday 29 June 2012. The Committee will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.
·    The Committee will publish on their website (http://www.djei.ie/science/ipr/crc_submissions2.htm) every submission that will have been received by 31 May, 2012 and will accept responses to those submissions until close of business on Friday 29 June 2012.