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Librarians protest new section of Copyright Act

Media Release for immediate use: 21/01/09

Librarians join protest against implementation of new section of Copyright Act

LIANZA, the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa, representing 460 public, educational, commercial, industrial, legal and government libraries in New Zealand, has joined the widespread protest against the implementation of new section 92A of the Copyright Act, which comes into force on 28 February 2009.

LIANZA has three major concerns about this section. The first concern relates to the extremely wide definition of internet service provider. As written, every person or organisation that has a website is an ISP, as is every library, school, educational institution, association, government department, company, business and office that provides Internet access to its users or to its staff.

The second concern is the implication that a library or other organisation’s Internet connection may be terminated if an accusation is made that copyright is being repeatedly breached on a library or company-owned computer. LIANZA is concerned that this is a reversal of a key principle of New Zealand law; that a person (or organisation) is deemed innocent until proved guilty.

LIANZA’s third concern is the requirement of section 92A, that an internet service provider must terminate the account of a repeat infringer. This draconian provision would seem to mean that, if a user is found on more than one occasion to have illegally accessed or downloaded copyright materials, or otherwise breached copyright in a work, the ISP must terminate the Internet access not of the individual accused of breaching copyright, but of the account holder – that is, of the entire library.

And if, as is usually the case, the library provides Internet access through the organisation to which it is attached, then the law as worded requires the ISP to terminate the Internet access of that entire organisation – city or district council, university, school and other educational institution, business, association, company or office.

Tony Millett, Member of LIANZA’s Copyright Taskforce said “ libraries are strong supporters of copyright law, and take great care to ensure that their websites do not contain any materials that are in breach of copyright. Likewise, if a library knows (either by being advised by its internet service provider or in some other way) that a user is infringing copyright on public Internet-access computers located in the library, it will take all reasonable steps to prevent such breaches, for example by banning the infringer from using the library’s computers”.

“Libraries are also willing to place notices above public-access computers, warning against illegal copying or downloading of in-copyright materials from the Internet”, he said. “However, libraries can not accept that their entire Internet access, and the Internet access of their councils or parent entities, could be shut down because of the illegal actions of a single library user”.

LIANZA has made a strong recommendation to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Stephen Joyce, that the meaning of internet service provider should be much more narrowly defined, and that new section 92A of the Copyright Act should be repealed prior to 28 February 2009.

ENDS

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