Yesterday, Labour’s communications and IT spokesperson, Clare Curran, sought Parliament’s leave to introduce a Bill to attempt to fix s92(a), the ‘guilt by accusation’ provision in the Copyright Act that is about to come into force. Any MP can deny leave and National did so. Following that, and her comment on the blog yesterday, we asked Curran to write a guest post on the issue. Here it is:
I think you can say two important things about Labour’s approach this week to the vexed copyright issue. The first is that we’ve acknowledged that there are significant issues with the controversial Section 92A coming into force next week with no workable code in place. I guess that’s about listening and taking it a bit on the chin. The second is that we are trying to be constructive about a solution, even if it’s a short term one. I hope the National Government is also listening. They voted for Section 92A last year so the onus is now on them, as the Government, to act.
I should say up front that the whole Copyright issue and how it is handled in New Zealand does need a rethink. But that’s not very helpful when there’s a law about to come into force with the major stakeholders still at odds on how it will be implemented.
I should also say up front that Labour is firmly committed to upholding the principles of protection of copyright while not placing an onerous burden on internet service providers. Labour also recognises the complexities of protecting copyright in a fast changing digital age where much of our creative and innovative work is performed on the internet. So where does that leave us?
It may be that we need an independent body to adjudicate on alleged breaches of copyright.
As an ex-journalist, I care passionately about the ownership of intellectual property and the ability of artists and professionals to make a living from their work. As a former public relations professional and active user of the internet I also care passionately about access to information and the ability of creativity to flourish online. It’s a balance of private and public property rights. The evolution of the internet and digital media has introduced new difficulties in enforcing copyright, and challenges to the philosophical basis of the concept.
I always try to take it back to the basic values that underpin any concept or law. I believe they are people’s rights, fairness in upholding those rights, respect and flexibility. And there’s another ingredient which is about evolution. The development of new technologies. And recognising that while things change, some things remain constant.
I think there has to be more work done on our Copyright Laws. I don’t have all the answers. I’ve only had the communications and IT shadow portfolio a few months. But we are listening and our intentions are constructive.
The Creative Freedom Foundation has mounted a fast moving, 21st century campaign that demonstrates the power of the online world to be inclusive and mobilise. I’d also like to recognise the important work of the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF) in its attempts to broker a working code to implement Section 92A. Keep at it guys.