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Friday, 4 June 2004


Alan Cunningham of Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute has brought the furore over the copyright in James Joyce’s Ulysses to the IPKat’s attention. The National Library of Ireland are planning an exhibition of manuscripts of Joyce’s work to coincide with Bloomday, 16 June (the date on which the action in Ulysses in meant to have taken place). However, Joyce’s estate has argued that such a display of the documents could breach its copyright in Joyce’s works. This has caused the Irish Parliament to pass emergency legislation, the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2004, to “remove any doubt as to the right of any person to place literary or artistic works protected by copyright or copies thereof on public exhibition without committing a breach of copyright”.

The IPKat is somewhat startled by all the fuss. He doesn’t think that displaying a copy of a literary work falls within the definition of infringement anyway, unless it counts as a performance of the work. He’s also quite alarmed at the impact the Joyce estate can have as a result of merely intimating that it is contemplating an infringement action.

Bloomsday here, here and here
Kidney recipes here and here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The reason, I think, why clarification was sought was because of the poor manner in which the Irish "making available to the public" right is drafted. Section 40(1)b of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 states that "performing, showing or playing a copy of the work in public" falls within the scope of the copyright owner's exclusive right. The key word here is "copy" - this provision is concerned with what persons may do with copies, and not just the work itself. In the equivalent UK provision - s. 19(1) of the 1988 Act - the exclusive right is to the "performance of the work in public". It seems arguable, on a literal interpretation, that displaying a "copy" of Ulysses in the National Library for public viewing amounts to "showing .....a copy of the work in public". In contrast, it would be implausible to argue that a public display of a literary work is a "performance of the work" for the purpose of s.19 - the word "performance" clearly envisages the carrying out of some act. Fortunately the new s. 40(7A) has rectified matters.

John Cahir

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