Saturday 23 September 2017

Copyright 'crucial' to safeguard reporting

Matt Dempsey
Matt Dempsey
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

THE newspaper industry has warned that any "loosening" of copyright protection will have far-reaching consequences for journalism and press freedom.

The body that represents newspaper publishers, the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), raised the contentious issue of copyright law as 21 industry awards were presented for excellence in the trade.

Matt Dempsey, chair of the NNI, said the awards celebrate the high quality content that continues to sell newspapers, and moved to highlight the importance of robust protections for the industry.

A report by the government-appointed Copyright Review Committee recently revealed a series of recommendations in the report, 'Modernising Copyright', to adapt the law for the digital age.

If the plans of the committee are accepted, then reasonable 'linking' to articles online will not be illegal.

Using small 'snippets' of pieces from elsewhere will be allowed, if the excerpt does not exceed 160 characters or 2.5pc of the piece.

Mr Dempsey told key figures of the industry that he felt the recommendations could "greatly limit the ability of newspapers to prevent others from commercially exploiting their content".

"The creation of high-quality, original content requires significant investment on the part of newspaper publishers, to the tune of hundreds of millions of euro each year," said Mr Dempsey.

He warned that investment was underpinned by robust copyright protection.

"Any loosening or weakening of which will have negative and far-reaching consequences for journalism, for press freedom and for media pluralism," he said.

Mr Dempsey urged all content creators to be vocal and active in keeping the debate over copyright protection live.

However, Mr Dempsey said the committee had acknowledged that newspapers made a vital contribution to the economy.

Among the members of the committee were academics and lawyers, including the chairman Dr Eoin O'Dell of Trinity College, Prof Steve Hedley of University College Cork and Patricia McGovern of DFMG Solicitors.

The committee calls for the creation of a Copyright Council of Ireland.

This would be an "independent self-funding organisation" and would work towards protecting copyright as well as "encouraging innovation".

In addition, the recent report from the committee recommended the Government consider establishing a specialist intellectual property court in the Circuit Court.

It also recommended such claims should be heard by the small claims court, providing the claim was below the standard district court level.

Interest in copyright issues proved strong at the committee's two public meetings, while it also received 100 submissions in the early stages and a further 180 submissions subsequently.

Irish Independent

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