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Statistics emerge around Guilt Upon Accusation Law

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday 23 March, 2009

Statistics emerge around the Guilt Upon Accusation Law

With only four days until the Guilt Upon Accusation law, Section 92A of the Copyright Act, is due to come into force the Creative Freedom Foundation (CFF) are highlighting statistics that paint a picture of what New Zealanders may face if the Government allows this law.

S92A was championed by former Labour MP Judith Tizard as a law that would cut off the internet of those “who might be breaking the law” without any due processeffectively removing New Zealander's fundamental right to being presumed innocent until proven guilty. Prime Minister John Key has aptly called this law “draconian”.

International trends indicate that S92A may be misused. A University of Southern California report on US copyright infringement has found that businesses targeting competitors account for more than half (57%) of all claims. The same report shows that over one third (37%) of claims of copyright are invalid, pointing out the necessity of trained experts to judge disputes. Within New Zealand Judge David Harvey has commented that 30% of copyright litigation fails due to a failure to prove ownership of copyright, or due to the copyright in question not being governed by New Zealand law.

CFF Director Bronwyn Holloway-Smith says that “it's likely that most organisations affected by S92A are unaware it affects them. Due to its broad definition of internet service provider (ISP), an ISP is now anyone with a shared internet connection or website” she says, “meaning that there are now hundreds of thousands of New Zealand businesses that will need to comply with this law. This will mean extra business compliances costs to avoid the risk of possible secondary copyright infringement“. ISPANZ estimate that 90% of NZ businesses use Network Address Translation (NAT) technology to connect their employees to the internet. Holloway-Smith says “Like most home phones, most NAT devices are incapable of tracking individual users, which is a practical necessity of S92A. NAT devices capable of tracking start at $1,500.”

Holloway-Smith says that disconnecting an employees' internet is comparable disconnecting their phone line, which could result in a firing an employee now unable to do their job: “While inappropriate use of company services should result in dismissal there are obvious problems if the employer is unsure of the accuracy of evidence. Businesses required to comply with S92A may experience difficulties arising from enforcement measures that could conflict with employment law”. Holloway-Smith adds that “A recent OECD study into online crime has found that 25% of computers are infected with viruses that download and distribute material without the owners knowledge.”

In contrast, while hundreds of thousands of organisations may be affected by S92A the number of groups represented at the Telecommunications Carriers Forum's (TCF) Copyright Working Party is approximately 35.

As of today 18,717 people, including 9,363 artists, have signed the CFF's petition against S92A.

While we appreciate that copyright holders want a streamlined system for punishing copyright infringement, these statistics show that infringement requires expert judgment and that these decisions should not be left to untrained ISPs.” says Holloway-Smith


ENDS

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