Copyright Meeting a Success

Yesterday I attended a meeting about Copyright with Labour MP Clare Curran. The meetings was attended by representatives from APRA, ISPANZ, InternetNZ, Chapman Tripp, Creative Freedom along with various ISP's and independent record labels. Although this is an emotional subject the meeting turned out to be quite constructive, with various people making excellent points to reinforce their views. Although organised by Labour it was clear that the meeting was apolitical. The main focus was clearly to find a way to resolve the difficulties with copyright. Nevyn from Auckland LUG has posted further details here.

It was very interesting for me personally, as I got to meet and discuss issues with many of the people that we normally consider our opponents. There was certainly the multinational presence felt, but there are also many honest New Zealanders in the creative industries earning a living from their work. They cannot necessarily make money off secondary services like we can in software. Also, I think there is an ethical issue around people taking the work of others for free - at least when the authors have not given permission. Just like the NZOSS frowns on copyright infringement of Microsoft products we cannot justify infringement of other works.

Statistics that both sides agree with indicate that copyright infringement is widespread. A policy of stringent criminalisation and punishment would only serve to alienate the customers of authors. A good point was made that ISP's tend to make less money from file sharers because they use more bandwidth. To date we have treated this like a zero sum game; that for citizens to win the authors must lose. It need not be this way.

One idea might be to introduce compulsory license schemes for ISP's so that a set amount is paid to a organisation that will distribute the funds to content providers. In this case books, music, film and SOFTWARE would benefit from funding. YES! SOFTWARE! Imagine if Ubuntu could get a cut of that funding based on how many time people downloaded it or updated it. Imagine if Ubuntu could distribute that money to open source projects that make up Ubuntu. The point is we can't just sit on the sidelines throwing stones. We need to have a honest discussion with all parties and come up with a solution that we all can live with.