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Copyright Amendment Act a "missed opportunity"

InternetNZ sees Copyright Amendment Act as a missed opportunity.

Media Release April 8, 2008

InternetNZ (The Internet Society of New Zealand) says the changes passed today to the Copyright Act have both benefits and detriments for Internet users and providers, and is disappointed Parliament has missed an opportunity to bring its Copyright law fully into the modern age.

Executive Director Keith Davidson says the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act, which passed its third reading today is a flawed law that fails to fully grasp the nature of those "New Technologies", such as the Internet and digital media.

"In particular the adoption of the discredited US-style notice and takedown regime for ISPs dealing with alleged customer copyright infringement is hugely disappointing. Also noted is the failure to enshrine a right for consumers to format-shift all their digital media so they can listen or view it on the device of their choice."

There are some improvements to the law, made by this Act. We welcome the exemption from liability for ISPs in relation to their technical functions such as making copies in transit, and also welcome the protection from liability for material they host but are unaware of.

The legalising of format shifting of audio files (such as from a purchased CD to an iPod) is a very modest step in the right direction. It is a great pity though they have allowed producers to opt out of format shifting, and have not extended format shifting to other media such as video. We believe that if a consumer has legally purchased a licence to the rights to a copyrighted work, they should be able to store it any format they like, so long as it remains for their personal use.

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InternetNZ proposed a notice and notice regime for dealing with copyright infringement for websites. This is a sensible approach adopted by countries such as Japan and Canada. Instead the Government has taken on board a notice and takedown system akin to the United States system, which has been widely criticised as open to abuse.

"The notice and notice regime would avoid many of the issues that have arisen in the United States, as ISPs would not be forced to remove disputed content to avoid liability" says Davidson.


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