The Irish National Anthem will be open to commercial exploitation next year when the government’s copyright runs out.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has confirmed that the Irish nation will lose ownership of the English language version of the anthem in 2012.
Opposition member of parliament Maureen O’Sullivan fears the anthem, composed in 1907, could now be ripped off for commercial gains or made a laugh of.
The ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ Irish language version is already out of copyright.
Minister Noonan has confirmed that the Department of Finance holds the copyright on the anthem but is powerless to stop it running out at the end of 2012, the 70th anniversary of the death of Peadar Kearney who wrote the English lyrics.
The Minister has also admitted that his department don’t own the copyright to the various Irish-language translations of the anthem made since 1917.
“We hold the copyright to the national anthem to ensure that it is freely available and to prescribe that performance fees are not charged for its use,” said Minister Noonan.
“We also do this to ensure that the piece is not used in an inappropriate context and without due deference, such as to render it an object of scorn or derision.”
Independent Dublin politician O’Sullivan has called on the State to ensure the anthem is not abused when the copyright protection expires.
She also wants a change to the lyrics of the opening line of the Irish language anthem to replace the words ‘Fianna Fail’ (soldiers) with ‘Laochra Fail’ (warriors).
“This would restore the integrity of the original words and stop it sounding like a party political broadcast,” said Deputy O’Sullivan.
Minister Noonan has claimed that the official version of the anthem contains ‘appropriate and correct interpretation’ of the words as composed by Kearney.
Composer Patrick Heeney died in poverty in 1911, just four years after he wrote the music to the anthem.
The State purchased the copyright for the anthem for £1,000 in 1933 but had to repeat this process because of copyright law changes when it paid another £2,500 in 1965.