Monday, October 24, 2005
Matthew Rimmer, Faculty of Law, Australian National University, has published "Bloomsday: Copyright Estates and Cultural Festivals", on recent changes in Irish copyright law and their effects on celebrations involving the work of novelist James Joyce. Here is the abstract.
Copyright estates have been unduly empowered by the extension of the term of copyright protection in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere. The Estate of the Irish novelist, James Joyce, has been particularly aggressive in policing his revived copyrights. The keepers of the flame have relied upon threats of legal action to discourage the production of derivative works based upon the canonical texts of the novelist. The Estate has also jealously guarded the reputation of the author by vetoing the use of his work in various scholarly productions. Most radically of all, the grandson Stephen Joyce threatened to take legal action to prevent the staging of Rejoyce Dublin 2004, a festival celebrating the centenary of Bloomsday. In response, the Irish Parliament rushed through emergency legislation, entitled the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Act 2004 (Ireland) to safeguard the celebrations. The legislation clarified that a person could place literary and artistic works on public exhibition, without breaching the copyright vested in such cultural texts. Arguably, though, the ad hoc legislation passed by the Irish Parliament is inadequate. The Estate of James Joyce remains free to exercise its suite of economic and moral rights to control the use and adaptation of works of the Irish novelist. It is contended that copyright law needs to be revised to promote the interests of libraries and other cultural institutions. Most notably, the defence of fair dealing should be expanded to allow for the transformative use of copyright works, particularly in respect of adaptations and derived works. There should be greater scope for compulsory licensing and crown acquisition of revived copyrights.
Download the paper here.