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Bloomsday: Copyright Estates and Cultural Festivals

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Script-ed, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 383-428, September 2005

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.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: Copyright law and term extension, the keepers of the flame and copyright estates, cultural festivals, libraries, public exhibitions, derivative works

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Date posted: October 2, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, Bloomsday: Copyright Estates and Cultural Festivals. Script-ed, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 383-428, September 2005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=759244

Contact Information

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )
Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000
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