I was pleased to see Labour’s Clare Curran ask a question in Parliament yesterday on S92A. While Labour are still being somewhat non commital on what they would do, it is encouraging that they understand the concern enough to start asking questions about it. I am hoping their edging away from S92A will cotinue!
Also kudos to Peter Dunne who accepted the petition today at Parliament. I understand ACT regard S92A as a huge compliance cost on business and are also unsupportive of it. And the Greens have admirably always opposed it.
The more I think about S92A, the more it reminds me of the Electoral Finance Act. They have certain things in common:
- Both were appallingly unclear
- Both generated significant opposition from the public, due to concerns over their rights being infringed
- Both did not and will not be as bad as people fear, but will still have a “chilling effect” due to the lack of clarity, and the severity of the potential penalty (termination of Internet access)
- Both have pissed off enough people, that they will engender a culture of complaints to test the law
What I mean by No 3 is worth elaborating on. In reality S92A is not going to leads to scores of NZers having their Internet access cut off. Just as the EFA did not lead to dozens of NZers going to prison for advocating against the Government. So yes the opposition (including me) does tend to focus on a worst case scenario for dramatic effect.
But just because the worst case scenario is unlikely, does not mean there are no negative consequences. MPs would do well to recall the words of the Electoral Commission on how the EFA had a “chilling effect” on political dialogue. Stuff such as doing parodies of political party billboards could end up with you getting infringment notices against your Internet account. Is an ISP going to decide whether or not a parody is fair dealing or not?
The other danger is the culture of complaints that it will engender. I am hearing all sorts of stories that people will be filing copyright complaints against Government websites, political parties, even blogs.
A lot of the best satire and parody on You Tube involves using something that is copyrighted. Whether or not it is “fair use” or “fair dealing” as allowed for under the law is not always an easy call.
So far 12,000 people have signed the CFF petition against S92A. Many of those signing are artists themselves.