NZCS claims Copyright Law is Ethically Flawed

Posted on: January 15, 2009 - 13:45 By: Feynmanfan

The New Zealand Computer Society is claiming that the recent legislation that will allow alleged copyright holders to cut off the Internet connections of New Zealand citizens is illogical and ethically flawed. The NZCS says that "Section 92a, championed by previous Associate Arts Minister Hon Judith Tizard, states that Internet Service Providers must look to disconnecting the Internet service of those that have been repeatedly accused of accessing copyrighted material online." The legislation has no requirements for the accusers to furnish evidence of infringement and there are no legal penalties for making false accusations.

Almost every technology commentator in the country has spoken out against the changes as well as every significant ICT representative organisation in New Zealand, including the NZ Computer Society (NZCS), InternetNZ, Telecommunications Users Association of NZ (TUANZ), the ISP Association of NZ, Telecommunications Carriers Forum, Women in Technology, the NZ Open Source Society, and many others.

The new law has also prompted the creation of the Creative Freedom Foundation, a group of creative artists strongly opposing the changes and furious that the changes are being justified in their name.

“NZCS strongly believes in the concept of Copyright, and ensuring artists have access to adequate protection”, Matthews said today. “However this law is a giant step too far and badly upsets the balance between protecting copyright holders’ rights, and the rights of computer and Internet users in New Zealand”, he said.

The NZCS made the argument that placing ISPs in the position where they have to act on accusation alone, without proper judicial process, places them in an impossible situation where they are expected to take an unethical stance and action by potentially denying an essential service from kiwi families and businesses, based on the accusation of a third party. So either they risk breaching ethical standards of behaviour, or risk breaching the law.

“This could potentially affect families, businesses, schools and libraries”, Matthews said, who likened the Act to threatening to cut the electricity off from a library if someone photocopied too many pages of a book. “Internet access is a basic necessity in today’s digital age and this law interferes with that”, he said.

“There’s very good reason why, almost without fail, every commentator and ICT representative who understands the potential consequences of this law has spoken out against it”, Matthews said. “We ask that the new Government hears the voice of the ICT community and acts to ensure the rights of computer and Internet users aren’t severely eroded over what is regarded as a civil matter”, he concluded.