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March 2, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Section 92A to Screw Over Downloading at Flat 92A

Internet freedoms will be the first casualty of the Government’s controversial new copyright law amendment, Section 92A, despite John Key announcing delays due to widespread condemnation.

The Prime Minister delayed the controversial legislation until 27 March to allow a voluntary code of practice to be developed by the internet community, saying he does not want to allow the internet to become like “the Wild West”. Meanwhile those promoting the law say it will reign in those who widely abuse existing copyright legislation.

Victoria University Media Law Lecturer Steven Price agrees, arguing there is adequate protection included within the amendment’s wording for the average consumer.

“An ISP (Internet Service Provider) that simply terminated [an account] on the basis of two or three allegations would surely not be implementing its policy reasonably,” Price said.

Section 92A, introduced by the Labour government last year, places responsibility for policing copyright breaches on ISPs requiring they terminate the account of any customer found using material “without the consent of the copyright owner.”

The inclusion of Section 92A originally received support across the political spectrum, despite being removed from the Act on the advice of Select Committee, only to be reinstated by the Minister responsible, Judith Collins.

Prime Minister John Key stepped in early last week to delay its introduction, after vocal uproar by the internet community which saw bloggers stage a coordinated ‘black-out’ of blogs and news sites.

Critics claim the delay is not enough, with the amendment originally designed to protect vulnerable income for the Music Industry, now having far greater ramifications in a variety of sectors. Internet New Zealand Chief Executive Keith Davidson told media last week that the amendment will affect a variety of unforeseen online media.

Price argues this is not the case, as there are specific systematic procedures a copyright holder will have to follow before an ISP would be forced to cut a user off. Price also argues the burden for Internet Service Providers to disconnect users accused of breaching copyright is no different to telephone companies disconnecting users for unpaid bills.

Concern has further been raised that the likes of students will be the first to suffer should the law in its current form proceed. The university network would be forced to act as an Internet Service Provider, policing copyright breaches, and restricting student’s access.

The extent to which restrictions will occur is debatable, as the law of copyright “generally allows students to make one copy of copyrighted material”, says Price.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Boner says:

    “Price also argues the burden for Internet Service Providers to disconnect users accused of breaching copyright is no different to telephone companies disconnecting users for unpaid bills.”

    No. The latter is like ISPs disconnecting users for unpaid bills.
    The former is like phone companies disconnecting users who are being accused of singing on the phone.

    Actually, that sounds like a great idea. I should sing on the phone more often.

  2. Electrum Stardust says:

    “Something big is coming fast. What do you do?”

    … Introducing the Vast University (Fire)Wall (VUW), which now blocks access to the Uncyclopedia website, and who knows what else?

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