Conversation on Copyright

The Dom Post reports:

The Labour Party will invite organisations with an interest in copyright law to informal talks this month.

Communications spokeswoman Clare Curran says the goal will be to try to thrash out agreement on the wider issues of copyright, following controversy over section 92a of the Copyright Act, which would oblige internet service providers “in appropriate circumstances” to cut off “repeat copyright infringers”.

The talks would help Labour form a view about what it would do when it returned to power.

“There should be a group talking about the big issues. Someone has got to take the initiative.”

I’m not just saying this because it is an issue I am involved in (and have been invited to the meeting), but it is a good example of what Oppositions should be doing.

Opposition can be pretty soul destroying. As you see National reverse previous policies you’ve implemented, it is demoralising. Trust me – have been there. And it turns the public off to have almost everything the Government does (which they generally campaigned on) attacked by the Opposition – it sends a message of “We still think we are right”.

One of the best things one can do in Opposition is to connect and listen to people. It is an opportunity to frame up policies and positions without being captive to past policies. Every Opposition Spokesperson should be getting around to meeting as many groups and individuals in their portfolios as possible. And not just inviting them in to your office – but going on the trail and visiting them – get out of Wellington.

Anyway back to this copyright conversation. It is a good example of sensible Opposition politics. Use a short-term issue (s92A) to start a conversation on a longer term issue (copyright law in the Internet age), and show you are listening.

s92A is just one flash point in the clash between technology that allows perfect high speed digitial copying of well basically everything, and traditional copyright laws. The challenge is to get a copyright law thet reflects the reality of today’s world, yet still protects the economic interests of rights holders.

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