InternetNZ and the Creative Freedom group have slammed a change of direction in the latest round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations which are seeking to cut off peoples Internet connections for copyright infringement. Earlier this year the Creative Freedom group promoted an Internet Blackout in support of repealing changes to the Copyright Act that have cut peoples connections if they commit copyright infringement.
The ACTA, currently under negotiation may introduce exactly this requirement according to documents leaked today. "If correct, this is cause for alarm and shows a significant change in ACTA's focus,” says InternetNZ spokesperson Jordan Carter. Carter suggests that the scope of the ACTA should be restricted to large scale commercial copyright infringement.
"With more international agreements being used to justify local law changes there is a real threat to the democratic process by negotiating treaties in secret without public consultation. Because the details of ACTA are not public it restricts New Zealanders from commenting specifically on parts of the text" says Matthew Holloway of Creative Freedom.
According to Carter big movie and music companies are conducting a global campaign to put their interests ahead of citizens' rights to use the Internet and to not be subject to unreasonable and arbitrary penalties that do nothing for the public interest. Carter proposes that the New Zealand negotiators argue for ACTA to focus on the big economic problems caused by commercial piracy and for the Government to clarify their stance. Furthermore he suggests that information about what exactly is under discussion be released into the public domain in the interests of free and open Government.
"We need to make the terms of ACTA public. US movie and music lobbyists are able to see the terms of the treaty, but New Zealanders are not able to" says Holloway. Holloway encourages the Government to design New Zealand copyright law for the benefit of New Zealanders, and not allow Hollywood lawyers to kick New Zealanders off the Internet.