Might I revise my estimation of the Prime Minister upwards, now that he has listened to the protesters against ss. 92A and 92C of the Copyright Act 1994?
Let’s say the jury’s still out, but Mr Key and his Cabinet at least showed they could listen to the voices of the people when he announced that the amendments would not be effected till the following month, on March 27. I might give them a bit of leeway in terms of their understanding of democracy.
The section will be suspended, says the PM, if no agreement can be reached. It doesn’t mean a full repeal, but it’s a victory in some degree to those of us who joined the “blackout” this past week.
It was a poor sign that the government even entertained the sections, which give extraordinary powers to copyright owners—both legitimate and fraudulent—to make accusations against New Zealanders. Netizens were at risk of having their internet connection cut off.
I am all for copyright protection—indeed, I have campaigned for extending it in the US to bring it in line with what we have here—but the current régime, without the sections, worked.
Similar laws, as has been pointed out ad nauseam by others, have been rejected by the UK and the EU.
Until today, the Hon Peter Dunne of United Future was the only MP to have been vocal enough about the sections’ shortcomings to be picked up by the mainstream media. And he seems to be the only MP out of the bunch who was willing, and who has been willing, to take a stand on issues, popular or otherwise. One can draw a contrast between him and the PM’s record to date.
But Mr Key and his government showed an understanding of the will of the people, at a time when National needs all the support it can get for possible hard times ahead. They should be applauded for doing the right thing here.
The petitioners numbered in the thousands, but I dare say they represented a great deal more who would have complained had they woken up one day to find a copyright infringement accusation made against them.
And New Zealand has a low enough internet take-up as is. Laws such as those proposed would have seen that number stagnate or even reverse—in direct contrast to the government’s stated aims for education and the expansion of broadband.
This does not mean those who joined the blackout should breath a massive sigh of relief. March 27 is not far off, and campaigners should still consider writing to their local MP to voice their concerns. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:05
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