Progress on copyright

I blogged last week on the new law, and how the provision about ISPs having to terminate Internet access for repeat infringers was causing huge problems.

The good news is the Government seems to be listening. IT Brief reports:

The government has bowed to unprecedented ICT industry pressure, announcing a four-month moratorium on Section 92A of its new Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act.

Communications minister revealed the back-down during the TVNZ7 Internet held on Tuesday night, saying the delay would give the industry and content providers time to come up with an alternative approach to controlling copyright on the internet.

The debate incidentially went really well I thought. Possibly could have been a bit shorter, but we had a good mixture of politics and policy. There was some generally good natured sparring that kept it interesting, but also some useful and interesting policy discussions around broadband, copyright, filtering etc.

From a technical point of view it was pretty seamless as we took questions from journalists, from the studio audience, from the online chat channel and also video questions through Skype. The InternetNZ staff and TVNZ staff and contractors did very well making it happen. Several people said they would like to see more debates with that interactive format.

Damien, Russell and Fran were all good at challenging the MPs, quite aggressively at times.

The funninest part for me was saying he had no idea why he voted for the new copyright law, as it is such a stupid law. I thought Maurice did very well, but in fact all four MPs did well with strengths in different areas.

You can view the video of the whole thing at debate.net.nz.

Anyway back to copyright. The Dominion Post also reports:

Paul Moreno, a spokesman for Justice Minister , said a delay to regulations required to put the cut-off clause into force was being considered, and that the delay might be “endless”.

“Judith is of the mind that Internet access is almost a human right now, similar to water and electricity.”

But Ms Tizard then appeared to toughen her stance, stressing that the Government was concerned to protect copyright holders.

And it is important to protect copyright holders. But look at the gap between the possible interpretations:

Ms Tizard would not say whether the intention was that the cut-off threat should apply only to people who had been repeatedly convicted of copyright offences, or to those who had been accused of infringements by bodies such as the Recording Industry Association – indicating it had been left deliberately unclear.

“The intention of this provision is to provide a framework for the ISP industry and rights holders to develop an efficient and effective mechanism that is workable for both parties.”

Telecommunications Carriers Forum chief executive Ralph Chivers said if the former definition was used, that might be one solution.

But Recording Industry Association chief executive Campbell Smith said that would not be acceptable as it would require copyright holders to sue infringers to prove their guilt. “That is just impractical and ridiculous. I don’t think that is what was intended.”

Instead, ISPs should cut off customers who infringed copyright after notifications from rights holders, he said.

Losing your Internet access on the basis of unproven accusations is not a goer for me.

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