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Govt’s hands-off approach to copyright not working

12 March 2009 Media Statement

Government’s hands-off approach to copyright not working

The National Government’s hands-off approach to ensuring a workable code of practice is in place to resolve copyright issues may end up resulting in a quarter of internet service providers in New Zealand not adhering to the code, Labour spokesperson on communications and IT Clare Curran said today.

Ms Curran said the Government’s approach was not helpful to the parties and the best thing it could do right now was to intervene to broker a working agreement, require all the parties to be part of it and appoint an independent adjudicator, such as the Copyright Tribunal, to resolve copyright disputes.

“In the House today I asked Commerce Minister Simon Power to support the introduction of a Labour Party amendment bill to amend the Copyright Act to ensure a workable code of practice was in place with the approval of the relevant Minister before Section 92A comes into force,” Clare Curran said.

“Mr Power again refused to grant leave to introduce the Amendment Bill. Instead he indicated that the Government was taking a wait and see approach on whether the parties could reach agreement on a code.

“Industry sources say that at least 25 per cent of the internet service providers in New Zealand which need to be part of a code of practice would pull back and do their own thing with regard to resolving copyright disputes. They would not be party to a code.

“This is clearly not going to work and it is time for the Government to constructively intervene.

“I applaud the work done by the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF) working party to develop a code of practice. I am concerned that Telstra Clear did not stick to its original intention of allowing the process to develop a code of practice to take its course.

“Telstra Clear’s action in vetoing the code of practice has effectively scuttled it as a viable code across the industry. Does the government expect it is acceptable that a code is adhered to by some in the industry, and not by others?

“Labour is currently the only party looking constructively at this issue and addressing questions of how to approach copyright policy for the future in the digital age,” she said.

“Labour is firmly committed to upholding the principles of protection of copyright while not placing an onerous burden on internet service providers. Labour also recognises the complexities of protecting copyright in a fast changing digital age where much of our creative and innovative work is performed on the internet.


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