Creative Freedom Foundation - "One Week Until 'Guilt Upon Accusation' Law In NZ"

Press release from the CFF:

Friday 20 March, 2009

One Week Until 'Guilt Upon Accusation' Law In NZ

With only seven days until the 'Guilt Upon Accusation' law, Section 92A of the Copyright Act, is due to come into effect the Creative Freedom Foundation has renewed calls for National to repeal S92A and replace it with a workable alternative. Intended to protect artists, the controversial law has been rejected by a majority of them with over 9,000 artists, including Yulia, Glyn MacLean, Luke Buda (Phoenix Foundation), Luke Rowell (Disasteradio)and Imon Star (Olmecha Supreme), calling for a sensible alternative. Gray Bartlett MBEhas stated that "The sledgehammer approach across the board, will totally dampen artistic and musical talent, most especially new and young talent”.

Former chair of the Copyright Tribunal Judge Harvey has said S92A is “an interference with economic relations and raises significant issues about the sanctity of contract” and “My view is that s 92A should be repealed”.

Prime Minister John Key has aptly called S92A “draconian” and “poorly drafted” while also speculating that, without practical and workable guidelines, internet providers may instead be “cutting people off left, right and centre, that's the issue, or [they may] get sued by the copyright people for their enforcement.” Creative Freedom Foundation Co-Founder Matthew Holloway agrees, adding that “practical enforcement of S92A will require training in data forensics and copyright law, and yet you will find no requirement for these in the law or the draft Code to ensure a fair process for New Zealanders.”

Former-MP Labour's Judith Tizard, who championed Section 92A, has defended it while also saying that it was designed to cut off “anyone who might be breaking the law.”

While similar laws were rejected and replaced with alternatives in the UK, Germany, and the EU, many analysts say that New Zealand is a lab rat for this kind of law. Speaking of S92A, Bill Thompson from The Guardian UK comments that “The content industry are looking for a compliant government that will do what they want, and then if it seems to work they can push that forward as a model to everyone else.”

Holloway further states “S92A has a one-size-fits-all penalty of internet disconnection – so copyright infringement by quoting too much text or downloading thousands of movies receive the same punishment. This law does not allow the discretion to make the punishment to fit the crime”

Creative Freedom Foundation Director Bronwyn Holloway-Smith says “We have seen lawyers, technologists, and thousands of artists saying why the law is naïve and impractical. We have seen a Select Committee listening to the public but having its conclusions ignored by the previous government. We have seen an Internet Blackout campaign draw global attention to this law, and now we are now watching two non-government groups privately deciding the future of this law. This is nonsense - it's time to get rid of Section 92A. There are viable alternatives ready to replace it that will preserve New Zealander's fundamental rights to due process, while also providing justice for copyright holders.”

Suggestions for alternatives advocated by the CFF are to reduce ISP scope to those capable of enforcement, changing to the internationally popular 'notice-and-notice' model, and establishing an affordable independent copyright tribunal for due process in any dispute.

CFF call on the Minister responsible, Hon Simon Power , to fix the law.