Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blackout and S92 of the Copyright Act

Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act assumes guilt upon accusation of copyright infringement, and forces the termination of internet connections and websites without evidence, without a fair trial, and without punishment for any false accusations of such copyright infringement. It says that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to cut people off the Internet if accused of copyright infringement. There’s no trial, no proof, and no accountability to get it right - and the law comes into force this month despite a viral protest.

The provisions were inserted into the Bill by the government after the Select Committee had told it to do the opposite and then passed the bill by a large majority in the House.

So what was the government up to? Mark Harris has the best post on the background of this whole mess, focusing on S92A of the Act, which adds a requirement that an ISP must have a policy for terminating the accounts of repeat copyright infringers. In a nutshell, the original Bill contained section 92A up until it went to Select Committee, which removed it. While the Bill was in Committee in the House and after the Select Committee report, Judith Tizard introduced Supplementary Order Paper 193 on her own bill which put it back in. In the Committee stage, Christopher Finlayson (now Attorney-General) spoke in support of the requirement that an ISP must have a policy for terminating the accounts of repeat copyright infringers.

But being treated guilty based on an accusation is wrong. Our ISPs should not have to police what their customers do on the Internet, plain and simple. That is why many people have blacked out their avatars on Facebook, Twitter and on Monday, their blogs, in protest. What's more, under the new law, anyone who provides any form of services over the Internet is an ISP. That means libraries, councils, schools, businesses, government offices, you name it. If you share your Internet connection with your flatmates, you're probably an ISP too under the new act.

Lawyer Andrew Wasterbrook has a good and interesting post as to why S92C of the Copyright Act sucks.

Jack Yan also has a good post on the issues: Copyright Act amendments sign of a clueless government. Read it. Learn more about it. It's a lot worse than the US equivalent - which you can read about here. And you can sign the petition here.

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Blogger Hamish said...

Suggest you also check out Juha Saarinen's backgrounder and regrettably bleak and correct predictions at Some context for NZ's harsh new copyright law

February 22, 2009 at 3:15 PM  

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