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Representation needed in Internet Policy Debate

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Friday 27 February, 2009

Public, Artists, and most ISPs not represented in Internet Policy

The Creative Freedom Foundation welcomes the Government's decision to delay the Guilt Upon Accusation law Section 92A, however this delay also calls for two non-Governmental groups to decide the future of New Zealander's access to the internet. The two groups – the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF) and selected Rights Holders – have been asked to reach agreement on a S92A policy by March 27th. Although the TCF are currently calling for submissions on their draft policy, the public, artists and most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not represented in the decision making process.

“The TCF policy does not address many of the key issues in S92A and it cannot be expected to fix the problems with the law. We are now in the unfortunate position of having our rights online decided not by the Government but by two distinct private-sector groups” says CFF Director Bronwyn Holloway-Smith.

Under S92A an ISP is defined as practically anyone with a shared internet connection or website meaning that “ISPs” include most schools, universities, libraries, businesses, and Government departments.

“We need to solve copyright holders' legitimate grievances about copyright infringement in a way that respects New Zealander's rights. Expecting thousands of untrained ISPs to be experts at data forensics and copyright law is impractical and ridiculous” says Holloway-Smith.

“We agree with Prime Minister John Key that the internet can't be a lawless 'Wild West', which is why it's integral to have justice for the rights holders, justice for the accused, and proper representation for all affected groups in the decision making process.”

Holloway-Smith adds, “While we encourage TCF submissions a policy can't fix a broken law. Those concerned with S92A shouldn't be distracted from the goal of repealing the law and replacing it with a workable alternative that will genuinely protect New Zealand artists and the public.”

The TCF draft policy is open for public submissions until March 6th, and the CFF will be submitting their concerns, including the controversial Alternate Section F (pages 30-33) allows for approved copyright holders to have the final say in disputes, effectively turning the accuser into the judge.

The Creative Freedom Foundation supports recent calls to allow existing copyright experts, for example the Copyright Tribunal, to judge copyright infringement. The Creative Freedom Foundation call on Simon Power and Chris Finlayson to repeal S92A before March 27th.

“As artists we need good copyright law as we benefit from public respect for the judgments of copyright infringement. Without due process, any injustices will cause a public backlash upon those supporting S92A, and as artists we are distancing ourselves from those who want to bypass New Zealander's fundamental rights” says Holloway-Smith.

ENDS

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