There was a lot of controversy
over the past few months concerning an attempt to change copyright law in New Zealand. After tremendous uproar over the fact that the law (a version of three strikes) basically would declare people guilty based on accusations, rather than proof or conviction, the government finally agreed to dump the plan
with plans to revisit it. However, it looks like now the government has decided to completely start from scratch
, and to recreate copyright law anew. This is quite surprising. Historically, changes in copyright law tend to be patches
. Every time a new technology changes things such that copyright law doesn't make sense, regulators duct tape on some "patch" that tries to deal with that new situation. Yet, New Zealand officials seem to be recognizing this, and want to see about rewriting copyright law from scratch:
The Copyright Act was written in the pre-internet age, and does not address any of the complexities surrounding file sharing, format shifting, and other modern issues such as DVD copying -- problems the last government was attempting to fix in a piecemeal fashion.
Of course, the real question is who will rewrite the law and how the process will work. If it's the industry, then you can expect the law to be much worse. But if it's designed with the full spectrum of interests taken into account, New Zealand could represent a useful sandbox for really (finally) rethinking some of the myths and talismans that some copyright maximalists insist are true, but for which no evidence exists. Hopefully, the government will consider ideas from outside the industry, and recognize both the public interest and the intention of copyright law.