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Parallel Importing and Deaf

Parallel Importing and Deaf

19th July 2002

New Zealand Government set to sell Deaf and Hearing-impaired down the river after the Elections

The Government is set to sell Deaf and Hearing-impaired New Zealanders down the river after the Elections with its proposed Parallel Importing Legislation. While the Government knowingly admits that some groups such as Deaf and Hearing-impaired will be disadvantaged, they have offered no remedy to the captioning issue states Deaf lobbyist Mr Kim Robinson.

In late 2001, Hollywood won a High Court case banning the release of parallel imported DVD’s & videos for 9 months after the initial International Cinema release. DVD’s have been a source of captioned entertainment for Deaf and Hearing-impaired as none of the movies available on DVD are captioned in Cinemas. Most of the DVD’s that are imported into New Zealand allows the viewer an option of watching the DVD in a several captioned languages.

New Zealand has been on the US Special 301 ‘watch list’ – a list that is maintained by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for a several years since 1998. This list is a mechanism that signals to foreign Governments the seriousness with which US views intellectual property problems. Failure to address the seriousness of the parallel importing issue which helps to combat piracy could lead to sanctions of imported goods such as software, videos, DVD's into New Zealand.

The proposed parallel importing legislation should not be used to deny certain groups the access to a much need tool that enables Deaf and Hearing-impaired to captioned dialogue that can not be presently obtained in other ways. New Zealand has a very poor record of offering captioned content to users whom depend on it. Currently only around 100 hours a week are captioned out of the 1000+ public free to air TV. SKY does not offer a captioning service either.

By not offering access to captions, the Government is creating a new criminal franchise in New Zealand among a minority group that depends on the very thing to enable them to participate in an everyday leisure that is deemed ‘normal’ among the majority of society. Deaf and Hearing- impaired people shouldn’t be forced to resort to crime to be able to enjoy a leisure activity and pay a ‘high price’ for doing so if caught. This itself is a potential violation of basic Human Rights for a minority group that needs access to the captioned content of the verbal English dialogue.

Nor do Deaf and Hearing-impaired want to become victims of a burglary if they do own a legal copy of the DVD which they had imported from overseas for their own private use. As Deaf and Hearing-impaired people are on the lower-economic scale, not many would be able to afford the high cost of regularly importing DVDs from Overseas for their private use. Deaf and Hearing- impaired would have to wait for 9 months before the DVD that has captions are allow to be released from Video Rental Stores.

It would be ironic for the majority of 200,000 Deaf and Hearing-impaired adults whom voted in the previous Elections for a Labour-Alliance Government which supports the establishment of a Relay Service and the Official recognition of NZ Sign Language, to vote again for a Government that would be willing to sell them down the river on the parallel importing legislation without any remedy. At present the proposed parallel importing legislation and captioning in Cinemas are subject to a current Human Rights Commission investigation, whom Mr Robinson whom made a complaint over this issue.


Mr Kim Robinson Fax: 09 832 6112 SMS: 021 1348126 Email: rockland@ihug.co.nz


Captioned Cinemas

http://www.yourlocalcinema.com/ (UK)

http://www.auscap.com.au/cinemastart.htm (Australia)

Parallel Importing




Relay Service


Disability Policies of Political Parties in NZ


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