Prime Minister John Key confirmed today that the government was killing the infamous Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment Act after Internet Service Providers failed to come up with a voluntary code of practice to enforce it.
The grassroots "Blackout" campaign opposing the law has been called the first mass protest campaign conducted on Twitter, though Facebook and dozens of high-traffic websites around New Zealand also played a part.
About ten days ago, the leader of the neo-conservative ACT Party announced he would work to repeal Section 92A. After that, the leader of one-man party United Future, like ACT a coalition partner with National, announced that he also wanted 92A repealed. So did Internet giant Google. The telecommunications company TelstraClear pulled out of the negotiations on the code of practice. Add it all up, and it was pretty well doomed.
The report on TVNZ’s One News this evening sounded almost frightened that not having the flawed law in place will make it harder to get a “free trade” agreement with the United States. An FTA with the US won’t happen any time soon, possibly not for many years, so there’s plenty of time to get it right. But a larger question is, why should the US be allowed to dictate our laws, anyway?
The architect of the law, former Labour MP Judith Tizzard, said the National-led Government “fluffed” the opportunity to craft a Kiwi solution. Nonsense: They responded to the demands of ordinary New Zealanders for a fair copyright law that respects fundamental concepts like natural justice. Tizzard seems not to understand such things, nor the right of people to oppose bad law.
Tizzard called the “Blackout” protest campaign “childish”, adding pompously: "It is not going to get us any further forward. While I understand the concern of internet users who think that their rights to free music and free films are threatened, the right is not to steal New Zealand music and film makers' work. The right to use the internet is a vital one, but libraries can provide it."
What planet is that woman on? The battle was never about illegal downloads—it was about the seeming presumption of guilt, a legal response out of proportion to the alleged offence and vague wording totally open to all sorts of draconian interpretations. She also seems unaware that her law could’ve cut off Internet access in libraries, too, if patrons used it there in a manner inconsistent with her law.
Tizzard lost her seat in Parliament in the last election, but she could be back if both Dr. Michael Cullen and Helen Clark leave Parliament before this term ends (this assumes that, as expected, a current Labour List MP runs in and wins the by-election for Helen Clark’s seat). At least as an Opposition backbencher she couldn’t do any more harm, unlike her now-rejected law, which would have.
Kudos to John Key for dumping this bad law, and shame on Judith Tizzard for continuing to defend it.