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
    DOn, 2 May 2009 @ 11:30pm

    Copyright law enforces the provisions of the GPL

    Without copyright law, the GPL becomes meaningless. The GPL is itself copyrighted. It's provisions can only be enforced using copyright laws.

    If people want to copyright stuff, they should be able to do so. The problem with S92a was it treated people as guilty on accusation, with no need to provide evidence or opportunity for the accused to respond.

    Another problem with copyright is the media companies are trying to restrict fair use, and to restrict the availability of equipment that *could* be used to violate copyright. If they had their way, you would not be able to buy DVD and CD burners, and you would only be able to use material on 'approved' devices.

    We used to criticize the Soviet Union for restricting access to photocopiers. If the media moguls could've, they would have done exactly the same, and effectively are trying to do to burners.

    The other problem with the whole IP/Copyright debate is the US patent office seem to let people patent anything they can think of. It is supposed to protect the non obvious, the inventive step, but instead people are able to patent discoveries and minor variations of existing ideas. We in New Zealand cannot do a lot about this.

    Personally, I'm a fan of Open Source and Open Content. But if Microsoft want to use restricted EULA's and copyrights, as far as I am concerned they can. I think it will be the death of them in the long run.

    Finally, I am told that New Zealand is the only country in the world you can buy an iPhone that is not tied to a Telecoms carrier. Our Commerce Commission decided this would be illegal. I cannot verify this - but I know people who have come to New Zealand on holiday and buying an iPhone was a 'must do' on the itinerary.

    That is the sort of thing that happens when you have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In New Zealand, we are fortunate that it has not perished from the earth.

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