Gareth Hughes

Digital copyright and suspending suspension

by Gareth Hughes

I may be a geek, but not the type that can fix your computer. I love technology, and even though I haven’t had a huge history of looking into tech and copyright issues, I really enjoyed hearing submissions on the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill.

The Bill essentially sets out a three-strike “notice and notice” system for copyright infringers.

Internet account suspension as a remedy for infringing file sharing was the big issue that many submitted on. Was suspension of a person’s internet account for copyright infringement a needed deterrent tool that would unlikely ever be used by copyright holders or an ineffective, and, as David Farrar put it “…unproportional response and a bad precedent”?

In the end a compromise was reached whereby it was drafted into the law as a remedy but only available if the Minister enacts the termination clause.

I like compromise and the idea of parties working together towards a solution, so was initially keen on it, but in the end after really searching within myself I came to the conclusion that there was no way Parliament should be drafting into law something disproportionate to the problem it causes, that will not stop the pirating of copyrighted material, and could take away people’s access to the internet, which in today’s wired world I believe is akin to a human right.

In my Minority Report I pointed out:

The Green Party asserts that there is a danger in heavy-handed regulation for a problem that may only be a temporary result of new technologies upsetting traditional business models. The use of fines rather than Internet suspension is a more appropriate sanction for file sharing, and the punishments should be proportionate to the crime.

Citizens are not denied the right to use their telephones because they happened to be used in the commission of a crime, and this legislation should not set any precedent. Access to the Internet has become a necessity in an era when more and more public and private services are only provided online.

While supporting the bill in principle, the Green Party opposes the retention of termination in the legislation.

As the Creative Freedom Foundation have pointed out “This isn’t a solution, and in fact it’s a massive problem because there are no government statistics about infringing internet downloading in New Zealand so it would have to be based on lobbying, and Internet Termination could be enabled in cabinet, without a vote in parliament.”

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Gareth Hughes on Wed, November 3rd, 2010   

Tags: , , , ,

More posts by | more about Gareth Hughes