Clare Curran on s92(a)

Written By: - Date published: 10:40 am, February 20th, 2009 - 12 comments
Categories: interweb - Tags:

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.

Clare Curran

12 comments on “Clare Curran on s92(a)”

  1. Mike Collins 1

    Good on you Clare. Good to see you taking a stand. Disappointed to see National so out of step on this issue. Yes, many parties made a mistake in voting this in, in the first place. Most have now changed their thinking (which isn’t a bad thing – shows they are listening).

  2. Tigger 2

    Wonder if Key or English would be pleased if their teenagers fell foul of this law…teens are downloading whores as we all know.

  3. lprent 3

    Or your neighbour if you’re daft enough to have an open WiFi. I still see a lot of these, but less than previously.

  4. dave 4

    Well done Clare. But why didnt Labor think about this BEFORE the bill was passed, instead of adding it back in after the select committee took it out. You could have written something on why Labour buckled to a select few lobbyists.

  5. lprent 5

    dave: And on the same note – why did the Nats vote for the bill with that clause on its third reading?

    Of course it was complicated because of the election – which is why I didn’t notice the reinsertion after select committee.

    Basically this just looks like a cockup from start to finish… The rest of the Act looks fine. I understand that a lot of negotiation went in on this clause. However it was largely between only a few of the interested parties.

  6. Don 6

    I have posted a comment responding to Clare’s previous entry at this site here:

    Copyright protest pics

    I think that in this guest post is great and shows a good understanding of the issues and concerns that many IT copyright holders have about S92. I’d like to express my thanks once again.

    I think there is an opportunity for both the major parties to agree to change the law. I know it is tempting to to paint one another as the ‘bad guys’ but from conversations I have had I also know that people in *both* parties have had serious concerns about the Copyright reforms that went into law last year. It would be nice to see more cross bench co-operation on resolving this issue.

  7. dave 7

    Of course it was complicated because of the election

    Oh yeah, blame the election – that had nothing to do with passing decent law. Parliament is elected to pass decent and workable laws – not to be reelected.

    The negotiation *was* only between a few interested parties, Labour cocked up, the minor parties other than Greens didnt know what was going on and Labour wasn’t talking to the Greens. In the end Labour cocked it up. Now it is trying to fix the law. If Labour had any balls it would have introduced an SOP in exactly the same form as Currans bill. It didn’t because it was too focused on digging up the dirt on JK in Aussie.

    Now lprent is trying to say the election was a factor.Oh puhleeease!

  8. frog 8

    Clare, you still fail to address the vexing issue of being denied a service based solely on accusations. Guilty until proven innocent is just plain bad, whether we are talking about copyright or any other legal matter.

  9. Don 9

    What frog says is absolutely correct.

    At the risk of sounding even more tedious than I normally am I will quote from my previous comment:

    “Your proposed amendment does not go far enough. S92 in its entirety needs revisiting. The idea that the law can be made good through the simple expediency of a Ministerial approved CoP is a red herring that once again switches the onus onto ISPs to produce something that complies with bad law.”

  10. lprent 10

    dave: Apparently this stuff got back into the bill after the select committee. I’d thought that the clause had died there. Turned out that it’d passed while I was occupied with the election.

    Post-election …. Apparently there has been discussion going on between the main parties (telcos/ISP’s and RIANZ etc) about what the code of conduct should be. The rights holders have walked away from that (ie RIANZ). That has left it as each individual ISP doing it and no way of getting any ability to question assertions of rights of accusers.

    It isn’t particularly party political as is shown by virtually every blog site of all persuasions are hammering it. The RIANZ’s stupid actions have just broadened it into the wider sphere. It is more in the order of the ongoing argument about digital vs analogue

    Essentially I think what I always did – the clause should be dropped.

  11. lprent 11

    Rob the Geek (there are too many robs around..) has a good roundup post on s92a. Good place to dig info out for those wanting to catch up….

  12. Jseph 12

    RIANZ should have no say. They’re fools stuck with an agenda that depends on a failing business model, which sister version in the United States has been busily filling up their courts with people who have done very little harm.

    The RIANZ are only representing their own interests. Where are all the other artists, the indepedent musicians, the writers, the people who create rather than the people who take earnings from the people that create. And, the largest interested party, the people, because Parliment sure doesn’t seem to be representing their overwhelming views.

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