from the reasoned-debate dept
There’s been plenty of backlash around the globe towards any sort of law that requires a “three strikes” policy for kicking users off the internet for three unsubstantiated accusations of unauthorized file sharing. In many places, attempts at such laws have been abandoned. However, down in New Zealand, after one such law was proposed, a group of concerned citizens protested, and had the provision removed, while also adding in a provision that put liability on copyright holders who filed false claims. However, at the last minute, the country’s copyright minister, simply changed it and put the three strikes provision right back in. This resulted in some outrage, and a meeting was set up between the copyright minister and those who had fought hard for the earlier change. As Boing Boing notes, the meeting did not go particularly well:
When it opened, [Associate Minister of Commerce, responsible for copyright] Judith Tizard spent 30 minutes telling us why the change had to be made. She began by strongly expressing her anger that we had complained to her at this stage in the proceedings. None of us, she said, had been to see her before this on this topic. When we protested that we had worked with the Select Committee, which had removed this provision – and balanced it with one which made licence holders liable for false accusations – she said that this was completely inappropriate of the Select Committee, because Cabinet had already decided this was going ahead. We should not have been surprised, we were told, that this provision was reinserted by the government at the last minute before the bill was passed….
She set forth strong views about how the launch of Sione’s Wedding had been ruined, about how studios in Auckland were running out of work, and about how artists were mortgaging their homes to make films and music and were not making any returns on their investments, all, she said, because of Internet piracy.
One of the Internet group tried to ask her whether the term piracy was appropriate, but she insisted that it was because people’s livelihoods were at stake. She also said that, since the Internet Service Providers were making money from providing Internet they were making money from copyright infringements and they have to find a way to deal with it. This was couched in very strong language.
What you see here is cognitive dissonance at work. This government official has decided what the problem is and who’s at fault, and simply will not listen to any of the reasonable explanations for why she’s wrong. But given that last paragraph and based on that reasoning, we should be taxing ISPs to provide money to newspapers. After all, “people’s livelihoods are at stake” and ISPs are “making money from online news.” Or, we should be taxing auto companies to provide money to horse-drawn carriage makers. After all, people’s livelihoods are at stake, and car companies are making money from the roads that were built for horse-drawn carriages. And, of course, we should be taxing any book publishing company that prints the bible, and supplying the money to monks. Their livelihood as scribes is at stake, and they are now making money based on taking away work from these monks.
If Tizard’s logic were to prevail, there would be no innovation and no competition — because any innovation or competitor would put someone else’s livelihood at stake, and would build off of the market they had helped create. Most people see why this makes no sense. Unfortunately, the person in New Zealand making the laws does not.