Public debate on ‘Irish SOPA’ to begin before weekend

1 Mar 2012

The Irish Internet Association’s public forum on the Irish copyright review is expected to go live by the weekend and will be open to the public, as well as IIA members.

The online survey is one of the moves agreed upon by Innovation Minister Sean Sherlock, TD, and the IIA following the signing of a statutory instrument, derided by many as the Irish SOPA, yesterday.

The reason why public reaction to what has been dubbed Ireland’s SOPA has been so emotive is because the instrument effectively puts the power in the hands of courts to issue injunctions against ISPs in illegal download cases, which could result in draconian three-strikes rulings which in turn could set a dangerous legal precedent across Europe. Some 80,000 people have signed a petition against the statutory instrument.

It is for similar reasons – particularly the spectre of three-strikes remedies – that close to 400,000 people across Europe took to the streets in recent weeks to protest the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which also inspires fears of three-strikes rulings by courts.

However, Sherlock has pointed out that the signing of the instrument is just one step in a strategy he hopes will ultimately see Ireland adopt enlightened copyright laws that place Ireland at the forefront of innovation in this area.

The next step is this copyright review.

He told yesterday that as well as launching the next stage of the Copyright Review Committee, he wants to see an informed debate based on public feedback.

He said that if necessary, the Committee would be prepared to draft a new Copyright Act that would encourage innovation in the digital economy and at the same time protect rights holders and small firms.

IIA chief executive Joan Mulvihill told that a new survey engine is being built that will allow the public to provide their feedback on each of the 86 questions posed in the Copyright Consultation Review Paper (closing date for consultation is 13 April and a public debate will be held on Saturday, 24 March).

“This forum is being created because people wanted to have an online mechanism for debating the copyright review.

“The whole idea of sending letters, and to the department, is not how this industry works and the minister is being responsive to that by agreeing to take into account the forum and survey’s results.

“This is not only for IIA members. In the spirit of community we are opening this up to people who are not members.”

Mulvihill said that all raw data will be sent to the minister’s department.

“For our members it is important that the IIA takes a position that reflects the full perspective of what members felt,” she told

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years