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Artists Say “No” To Guilt Upon Accusation


6 August 2009

Artists Say “No” To Guilt Upon Accusation And Internet Termination

The Creative Freedom Foundation, representing over 20,000 New Zealanders including 10,000 artists, encourage the government to continue it's efforts in fixing the copyright law section 92A.

Earlier this year New Zealand came dangerously close to implementing the harshest, and most draconian of copyright laws anywhere in the world. This law would have seen innocent people punished based on mere accusations” states CFF Director, Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, “No wonder so many people called it the Guilt Upon Accusation law.”

Last month the Ministry of Economic Development released their Policy Proposal Document for public comment, with submissions due this Friday 7th August before 5pm.

The new MED proposal is a considerable improvement and it makes the sensible decision to empower independent experts to judge the merit of allegations – a practical necessity considering that 30% of NZ copyright lawsuits fail to even prove ownership. You'd hope that justice wouldn't be controversial but this week has seen NZFACT renew calls for accusers to judge the accused and for the removal of New Zealander's fundamental right to trial.”

It's disappointing to see NZFACT not advocating for publicly respectable copyright law. It's a shortsighted approach that is doing great harm to public respect for copyright and other artistic rights.” says Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, “the CFF believe that fundamental rights should never be sacrificed due to a lack of patience.”

The MED proposal includes Internet Termination, a form of punishment that has fallen out of favour internationally, with nations in the EU rejecting it entirely.

Unfortunately however, Internet Termination is still in the MED proposal. This was one of the main concerns of the former s92A and an issue that saw tens of thousands of New Zealanders join our Internet Blackout campaign in protest.”

The internet is part of modern free speech, and with essential services moving online termination may hinder people's ability to pay bills, operate their business or do their job, access banking, news, health care records, education, and talk to friends and family.”

In future years the internet will continue to become more pervasive and internet termination will be seen as increasingly unfair, and comparable to cutting off someone's electricity, phone or post service. It's already essential to many New Zealand businesses” says Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, “There are alternatives such as targeted fines which would allow compensation to artists rather than the inventive punishment of termination which has been ruled out in many countries such as the UK.”

As artists, and copyright owners, we believe that there needs to be greater awareness and respect for artist's rights, but we don't want to see the removal of basic justice, or disproportionate punishments like internet termination.”

The CFF urge artists and the wider public alike to have their say. More information can be found in their latest newsletter http://creativefreedom.org.nz/story.html?id=376



The UK Government have said: "We currently have no intention of legislating to terminate the accounts of persistent copyright offenders [...] We don't consider this to be a proportionate response, especially given the importance of internet access in today's society, where many services including banking, health and education are increasingly delivered online. Disconnection is even less fair in situations where a number of people in a household may share one broadband account." (source: http://creativefreedom.org.nz/story.html?id=328 )


The Creative Freedom Foundation is a not-for-profit trust representing 20,000 New Zealanders, with 10,000 of those artists including musicians, film makers, visual artists, designers, writers, & performers. Founded in 2008 in response to changes in copyright law and the effect these changes are having on creativity, the economy, and public rights, the Foundation's primary goals are:

• The education of New Zealand artists about emerging issues within New Zealand that have the potential to influence their collective creativity

• Advocacy to ensure that their views are taken into consideration, and

• The promotion and encouragement of activities that support and build the New Zealand arts community, positive relationships within that community and/or the positive wellbeing of that community.

Through their goals, the CFF seek to influence change in NZ Copyright Law, making it appropriate for the 21st Century.

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