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    Section 92A - “cut off anyone who *might* be breaking the law”

    Minister Judith Tizard made comments related to Section 92A of the Copyright Act half-way through a bfm radio interview on 10 November 2008. It required a response. Here’s a transcript and my comments:

    Interviewer: “The concern with the IT people though is that when they came and expressed concerns about, say, the potential that people would be disconnected from the Internet for civil offences - it perhaps was not the exchange of ideas which caused the main problem, but the feeling that you’d almost sort-of prejudged the case when you’d came and sat down with them.”

    Judith Tizard: “We’d made - the law had changed, they came about a year too late - and I tried to explain the process by which laws are made - and to be, to be, um, [sigh] to be specific there are a couple of people who are upset, …”

    There are 592 members of the Facebook group for Fair Copyright for New Zealand - No Section 92a.

    Judith Tizard: “… most of the rest - and to be blunt they’re talking bullshit - um, you know, if - yes it is easier for ISPs, Internet Service Providers, to cut off anyone who might be breaking the law, um, but you know, you can go to a library and use the Internet, and you can go to another ISP.

    So my argument was that there was commercial sense in having a process, ar, by which we could - it’s a combination of education and enforcement.

    You can’t say to copyright owners we will legalize the theft of your creative work, nor, could we say to citizens you can’t use music that you own and, you know, an ipod together.”

    There were 125 public submissions on the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Bill when it was before select committee.

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, several submissions were against the termination of a person’s Internet connection based on the accusation that they might have infringed copyright.

    Consumer New Zealand’s submission raised this warning:

    The onus is then on the customer to prove their case and get their website access reinstated. We believe this responsibility is open to malicious abuse by parties who wish to close-down websites or disrupt in some way another person’s business or enjoyment of the use of the internet.

    Based on these submissions, following their deliberations the select committee removed the offending clause from the bill.

    However during the committee of the whole house stage, Section 92A was reinstated.

    In the parliament debate, National’s Christopher Finlayson explains their reasoning for reinstating Section 92A:

    Christopher Finlayson: … The Minister [Judith Tizard] knows, and I certainly know, that we have all had approaches from various commercial entities, as a result of which the Minister has come up with a number of amendments. We will support those. The first makes some changes to new section 92A, and I need not go into that in any great detail. We support what is being done there. Essentially, it is putting back into place what had been there before the bill went to the select committee.

    So that is “the process by which laws are made”. People and industry make submissions to a select committee, which agrees and removes the clause.

    Then both the Labour government and the largest party in opposition, National, succumb to corporate lobbying and put the clause back in.

    Say goodbye to democracy.

    Say goodbye to freedom on the internet - was nice while it lasted.

    Wed 12th Nov 2008