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Auckland, New Zealand
Smurf sized geeky person with a penchant for IT, gaming, music and books. Half of industrial duo 'the craze jones'. Loves data, learning new things, teaching new things and being enthusiastic.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Section 92 Copyright Act amendments are wrong!

I am very concerned about section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act which comes into force at the end of February in New Zealand. This law assumes guilt upon accusation. No courts or legal system of any kind are involved. Your ISP is expected to act as judge, jury and executioner based upon a copyright infringement notice. For more information about this new law, check out Mauricio's blog as he's written a very good article, or the Creative Freedom Foundation or you could even go and read the law amendment on the NZ Legislation website. How do they prove guilt?

That's all the proof they need. A signed notice from the copyright owner.

92D Requirements for notice of infringement
A notice referred to in section 92C(3) must—
“(a) contain the information prescribed by regulations made under this Act; and
“(b) be signed by the copyright owner or the copyright owner's duly authorised agent.

Because I am so concerned about this I've done something I would not normally do and I wrote to my MP, Rodney Hide, voice my concerns. Normally I would just sit on the fence and say that it's only those with a guilty conscience who are objecting to a new law and that those of us who aren't out there downloading a hundred movies a week to burn to DVD and sell on have nothing to fear, but how about downloading that episode of Mythbusters that you missed last week? Does that count? Or how about that episode of Heroes you only caught the last half hour of but wanted to see all of it? Yes you can go and stream it from the TV station website and that's great if you want to watch it in low quality, but what if you want to watch it in high quality? Are you expected to wait a year or longer for the season to be released on DVD just so you can watch the half hour that you missed?

Most people don't even know this is coming in at the end of Feb. You tell people at work about it and they have no clue what it's about, so you point them to the website explaining the new law and they come back to see you an hour later absolutely horrified. So not only do we have an insane law about to be passed, but it seems the vast majority of people in this Country don't even know about it. Talk about sneaky!

TV3 are also not helping the situation with their biased and thoroughly appalling coverage of the blackout protest in Wellington this week. The comments left at the end of the article are very telling.

Regarding my email below to Rodney Hide - I have received an email response to say that the ACT party opposes this amendment of the Copyright Act and that it is their hope that the National Government will review the law, and strike out this clause. I'm not so sure just hoping they will do it is going to be much use. They may need to be proactive and start to protest with those of us who are aware of what is going on.

Dear Mr Hide,

I'm writing to you as I'm very concerned about section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act. My concerns are twofold. Firstly I'm concerned how guilt upon accusation will affect those of us who run wi-fi hotspots, secondly I'm concerned as a musician.

Wi-Fi Hotspot Concern
I have stopped setting up my wi-fi hotspot until I can be sure that I will not lose my internet connection based upon an accusation that has been triggered by someone other than me downloading tv shows or movies via my hotspot connection.

Any accusations such as this should be processed via the court systems to ascertain the truth of the situation. In a democratic country surely it should be the case that people are innocent until proven guilty, and not guilty because an ISP has received a letter from a movie company saying that they 'suspect' IP address has been downloading their product.

Musician Concern
As a musician who believes in letting people download my product, I am concerned that this new rule will be damaging to those of us who rely upon the Internet as a means to distribute our music.

When my previous band were first traded on Napster many, many years ago (before it was shut down by greedy corporates) I was over the moon. It felt like we'd made it as a band to have people sharing our music, it also increased our CD sales and gave us Worldwide radio airplay, something that would not have been achieved without people downloading and sharing out tracks. I was extremely upset when Napster was closed down as it removed a method of promoting our music and I can see the same blinkered approach happening again.

The Internet has opened up the World for musicians, whereas 10 years ago a band was stuck promoting to their local area, we now have the entire globe at our disposal. We need people to be able to download without fear of reprisal. A band can now make enough money to meet their outgoings without anyone even knowing who they are in the mainstream. You won't have heard of any of my bands but we've made enough money to cover our costs, we have Radio 1 airplay in the UK, we're in the UK for 6 weeks in May/June this year recording our next CD and we're not signed to a label of any kind. All of this has been achieved via the Internet and we need to keep this capability alive.

Kind regards,
Amanda Jackson

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