Savvy TDs crowdsource their response to Copyright Review

28 May 2012

A pair of independent TDs are enlisting the public as part of a crowdsourcing exercise to get feedback on their submission to the Copyright Review Commission in the aftermath of the signing of the statutory instrument dubbed ‘Ireland’s SOPA’.

TDs Stephen Donnelly and Catherine Murphy also worked with Antoin O’Lachtnain of Digital Rights Ireland, Tom Murphy of and solicitor Simon McGarr on their submission.

The group has prepared a draft submission to the Copyright Review Committee, and has published it online at Using an innovative application called, they are seeking feedback from the public. allows people to comment on individual sections of the submission.

The group is also making the submission available in editable format under the Irish Creative Commons Attribution licence. This allows people to take those parts of the submission they agree with and use those as the basis of their own submission to the Copyright Review Committee.

The aim of the submission is to rebalance the copyright regime so it recognises the rights of the consumer alongside the rights of the creator/producer of the copyrighted work.

They say they want to have copyright legislation in place that encourages innovation and investment and makes Ireland stand out as a creative hub attractive to investment from international digital companies.

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.

In February a controversial statutory instrument providing courts with the ability to grant injunctions against ISPs in illegal download cases was signed into law, potentially resulting in families getting their broadband access cut off after three strikes.

The timing of the legislative change couldn’t have been worse for its proponents, being in the aftermath of the abandonment of controversial SOPA/PIPA legislation in the US and growing awareness of the ACTA trade agreement in Europe.

The key principles of Donnelly and Murphy’s submission are:

  • In any review of copyright law, the needs of consumers and citizens should be a key consideration. Consumers are the ultimate paymasters for the producers of copyright works.
  • The system of copyright must, at its heart, facilitate the fair payment of creators by consumers of their work.
  • Reform must allow for the accelerating pace of technological change. It should be descriptive, rather than proscriptive.
  • Reform of Irish Copyright law is an opportunity to positively differentiate Ireland from other jurisdictions. Vested interests must not prevent us from the potential economic and cultural benefits.
  • Any Irish reform of Copyright Law must take into account the decisions of the European Court of Justice balancing the right to copyright enforcement with the civic and human rights acknowledged by the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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