20 years of NZ Internet

May 4th, 2009 at 12:44 pm by David Farrar

I was on Media 7 last week with Russell Brown, Nat Torkington and Colin Jackson discussing 20 years of the Internet in NZ. It was a fun discussion and reminded me of how much we take for granted today, and how different the world was before the Internet.

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The copyright law goes global

October 13th, 2008 at 12:22 pm by David Farrar

I blogged a few days ago, quoting Colin Jackson who attended a meeting with Judith Tizard to discuss concerns over the new copyright law. The law requires ISPs to terminate Internet access to repeat copyright infringers, and there is a push on for this to mean those merely accused of copyright infringement, as opposed to those convicted of doing so.

Colin blogged:

Judith Tizard spent 30 minutes telling us why the change had to be made. She began by strongly expressing her anger that we had complained to her at this stage in the proceedings. None of us, she said, had been to see her before this on this topic. When we protested that we had worked with the Select Committee, which had removed this provision – and balanced it with one which made licence holders liable for false accusations – she said that this was completely inappropriate of the Select Committee, because Cabinet had already decided this was going ahead. We should not have been surprised, we were told, that this provision was reinserted by the government at the last minute before the bill was passed.

Now this story has been picked up on other blogs, including Boing Boing. Boing Boing is one of the top ten blogs in the world for readership. Millions of people read it. And this is what they have just read:

New Zealand’s copyright minister starts screaming when asked whether it’s fair to cut people off from the Internet on the basis of three unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement.

Boing Boing further note:

Of all the unreasonable and awful proposals to come out of the entertainment industry, none is so bad as the three-strikes rule, a rule that would leave everyday people vulnerable to having the connection that brings them freedom of speech, of assembly and the press, the link that connects them to family, school, work and government, terminated because someone, somewhere made three accusations of copyright infringement, without having to offer a shred of evidence.

What I found most interesting what as the viewpoint from Judith that it was “inappropriate” for a select committee to make changes to a bill which differ from what Cabinet agreed to. This is a novel way of looking at the role of Parliament.

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Copyright and Select Committees

October 8th, 2008 at 11:46 am by David Farrar

Colin Jackson from the Open Source Society has blogged a meeting between ICT reps and the Government over the new legal requirement for ISPS to terminate someone’s Internet account purely on the basis of allegations of copyright infringement.

The clause in question was in the original bill, and removed by the Select Committee (unanimously) as unnecessary as ISPs already terminate for illegal activity. The Select Committee also added on a clause to penalise people (up to $100,000 fines) who made false allegations of copyright infringement. This was also unanimously agreed to.

The Government then introduced at the Committee of the House stage an Supplementary Order Paper that reveresed both these changes made unanimously by the Select Committee. They put back in the provision for an ISP to be forced to terminate a customer merely on allegations of infringement, and even worse removed the penalty for false complaints.

What I found interesting from Colin’s blog was this explanation for why it was put back in:

When it opened, Judith Tizard spent 30 minutes telling us why the change had to be made. She began by strongly expressing her anger that we had complained to her at this stage in the proceedings. None of us, she said, had been to see her before this on this topic. When we protested that we had worked with the Select Committee, which had removed this provision – and balanced it with one which made licence holders liable for false accusations – this was completely inappropriate of the Select Committee, because Cabinet had already decided this was going ahead. We should not have been surprised, we were told, that this provision was reinserted by the government at the last minute before the bill was passed.

That is an interesting view on the roles of Select Committee. That it is completely inappropriate of them to mack changes that go against Cabinet policy.

So why do we bother with select committees?

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