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May 9, 2011 | by  | in News |
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Wikileaks

Issues surrounding New Zealand’s recent Copyright (Infringing and File Sharing) Act have become murkier since it was revealed the United States lobbied the government to enact it.

The controversial whistle-blowing site, Wikileaks, released cables which passed between the U.S and New Zealand on the issue.

A United States cable from February 2008, when the Labour-led Government was passing its equivalent of the current Act, suggests such lobbying.
The cable states the U.S “presented the list of noted shortfalls in the draft legislation to Minister Tizard (Consumer Affairs), Minister Goff (Trade) and to officials within the Ministry of Economic Development.”

The government later decided to scrap the requirement for Internet Service Providers to cut users’ internet access after three infringements due to public opposition. A cable from April 2009 shows the U.S was anxious to bring the provisions back proposing talks with government officials and offers to help drafting new provisions.

The U.S offered to “possibly help with drafting and as a public diplomacy tool to dispel public misperceptions about proper role of IPR [intellectual property rights] protection,” the cable states.

U.S influence dates even further back. An April 2005 cable reveals the U.S. willingness to pay over NZ$500,000 to fund a recording industry enforcement initiative.

This funding was to include four salaried positions, legal costs for investigation and prosecution, and training programs.

The project was backed by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society.

The Copyright Act was passed by Parliament under urgency last month. It aims to prevent internet file sharing and protect intellectual property rights.

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