New Zealand Officials To Scrap Copyright Law; Start From Scratch

from the but-who-will-be-involved dept

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.

Filed Under: copyright, copyright law, new zealand

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  1. identicon
    Chargone, 30 Apr 2009 @ 6:06pm

    if memory of past experience and general impressions of the current government is any indication, the result will probably a be a mixed bag.

    national has business [not necessarily big business, but business none the less] as a much higher priority than individual members of the public, i think. on the other hand, after 9 years of labour government, they're kinda desperate not to appear to be more of the same, so excessive regulation is unlikely.

    they're at LEAST as prone to folding up when a free trade deal is dangled in front of them as labor was though.
    of course, they also seem [Seem] less likely to ram something through in spite of public opposition because they think its right.

    given that the ISPs [or at least some of them] basically revolted the last time they tried something silly with the internet things, and given NZ history [dvd players? i do believe that locking the Players to a single zone was deemed illegal (or at least, not legally supported) in NZ. it is legal to make copies for personal use, though format shifting is currently not, stuff like that] ...

    i would imagine [though i actually know nothing] that the end result will be something somewhat looser than what the big film companies etc want in terms of what you're allowed to do, but a lot harsher than is really reasonable [but not so harsh that it causes problems like the three strikes thing] for the rest, and probably will still be more limiting than the ideal.

    oh yeah:
    "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."
    worth keeping in mind how our government tends to talk and think [or at least, New Zealanders, which the government is a subset of... and, i suppose, so am i] . while this doesn't Specifically say that the law has to accommodate things, it also doesn't say those things are 'problems'

    it says that the way the copyright law Interacts with those things is a problem, but is noting that interaction with each thing is a Different problem.

    that's how i read it, anyway.

    besides, national got in on the back of promising to do away with some of the more unpopular laws labour passed in recent times. if they pass something bad enough copyright wise, it wouldn't surprise me to see them fall to the same trick. 'course, labour currently isn't looking all that terribly effective. and stupid lizard voting habits mean that anyone ELSE toppling them is vanishingly unlikely.

    [disturbingly, i see Act as the most likely to be willing o jettison the whole copyright thing. unfortunately, they also want to privatize our water, for example... yeah... anyone surprised they don't get many votes?]

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