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Decision to abandon Copyright Act clause welcome

InternetNZ welcomes Government decision to abandon Copyright Act clause Media Release 23 March 2009

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc.) welcomes the decision by Government today to amend Section 92A of the Copyright Act through starting a process to create a more workable law.

Executive Director Keith Davidson says “This decision to change the law will be a relief to those who have valiantly opposed Section 92A and all that it stood for - the way it necessitated termination of Internet accounts based on mere allegations, imposed compliance costs on all sorts of businesses and organisations, and failed to protect these businesses and traditional Internet Service Providers who were caught in the middle through no fault of their own.

“Terminating an Internet account was always a disproportionate response to copyright infringement and to force ISPs and other organisations to be copyright judges and policemen was never an acceptable situation.”

Davidson says the trend internationally is away from attempting to legislate for termination of Internet accounts for those alleged to be infringing copyright.

“New Zealand has narrowly escaped being the global guinea pig for this approach and precedent setter for its advocates.”

Davidson says there are very good judicial, practical and ethical reasons for rejection of 92A, articulated in the submissions to the Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum (TCF) Copyright Code of Practice. Section 92A was opposed by the overwhelming majority of these submissions and by the earlier Commerce Select Committee’s opinion.

“It was unfortunate that it was reinserted into the Act at the last minute, leading to incredible wastage in people’s time and effort over the past year. On the upside, New Zealanders are now far more aware of the importance of protecting the openness of the Internet.”

Davidson also says New Zealand should not have contemplated trading the public’s unfettered access to the Internet as part of international trade treaties without consulting the wider public.

“Access to the Internet is very important to our economic future, bringing New Zealand ‘closer’ to its trading partners and markets. We fully support the Government’s fibre-to-the-home initiative and anticipate that more and more online services will be crucial to businesses and consumers alike.

“We are grateful that the Government has pulled back from allowing the Internet to be compromised on the basis of the narrow commercial interests of global entertainment industries trying to shore up failing business models. Those industries should focus on educating their customers not threatening them. Government may like to consider the Notice and Notice approach to such education advocated by InternetNZ, an approach that has been successful in both Canada and Japan.”

InternetNZ will continue to work with the Government and all interested parties to put in place better Copyright law that takes account of the realities of the digital age and all it has to offer, says Davidson.

ENDS

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