Tomorrow there are protests planned in our big cities against the controversial Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Act, the so-called Skynet law that comes into force from 1 September.
I’ll be speaking at the Auckland rally to explain why the Green Party opposed the law and how making content available online legally is a better way of supporting artists and copyright-holders than this ill-conceived law that first and foremost benefits international corporates.
The handling, debating and implementation of this law has been a massive FAIL for the National Party. Tacked on to the Canterbury earthquake bill under urgency the abuse of this process simply made an already sceptical tech community nervous about the Government’s intent. Thousands tuned into the Parliamentary debate and were embarrassed by the lack of knowledge or preparation of MPs passing the law. The so-called ‘compromise’ around internet termination simply ‘passed the buck’ and kept this breach of human rights on the law books. As of two weeks ago the detection parts of the law have begun being applied, but the Government isn’t offering support to small businesses, libraries or schools who will be affected by this law.
They’ve left it up to Internet NZ’s www.3strikes.net.nz/website to clear up the confusion for them. I spoke to a collection of IT professionals from high schools across NZ last week and they are feeling unprepared and apprehensive about the law, especially considering it’s the account holder – be it a school, company or in parliament’s case the Speaker who is responsible for all infringing on that account.
It’s clear now thanks to Wikileaks cables, successive Governments were under pressure by U.S. politicians (themselves under direct pressure from big corporate entertainment lobbyists) to assist with drafting the law and then passing it as fast as they could.
New Zealand is far behind the rest of the world in terms of our access to new material released on the conventional supply chain, and we often have to wait months, even years before we can get content that is freely available overseas. Digital media is the future, and this law puts this legitimate and legal method of content accessibility at risk, all the while ignoring the people who are doing the lawbreaking.
Like the successful Blackout campaign that halted Labour’s previous botched attempt at online copyright law, the organisers are urging people to wear black at the protests in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.