Industry keeps heat on govt over copyright

Telecommunications Carriers Forum head Ralph Chivers says it will be difficult to get a code in place by the end of February, to allow fair and practical implementation of Section 92A of the Copyright Act. This requires internet service providers to have in place and "reasonably implement" a procedure for disconnecting "repeat" illicit downloaders of copyright works.

"We will struggle to meet the deadline," he says; there is still some detail to be sorted out among the interested parties. But for the time being, the TCF-coordinated working party will press ahead in the expectation that the law will come into force on February 28, he says.

InternetNZ has issued a strong statement advocating a further postponement of the February deadline by at least two months. "A termination policy that meets the law will be very difficult, if not impossible to achieve, without compromising the rights of individuals and organisations to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty," says executive director Keith Davidson.

"Section 92A should not be brought into force. If the new government remains committed to implementing it regardless of the concerns raised by many, it should still defer the commencement of the section by at least another two months to allow for the TCF working party to complete its work and for the Government to begin an extensive education programme for business."

Davidson says little has been done to explain the implications of Section 92A to businesses, which may need to have a termination policy. "It is likely that most New Zealand businesses have never heard of Section 92A, yet any business that provides internet access for its staff will be regarded as an ISP and will need to implement a termination policy, prior to Section 92A becoming law on 28 February," he says.

InternetNZ met with Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson late last year and gained the impression that "he supports a first-principles review of copyright legislation," says Davidson. Finlayson was unavailable for comment before deadline.

However, ICT Minister Steven Joyce says the government "acknowledges concerns" about the Copyright Act and is prepared to consider future changes, but he holds out no hope of a postponement of the deadline for s92A to come into force.

The Ministry of Economic Development is "keeping informed" as to how the TCF co-ordinated code comes together, he says in a statement emailed to Computerworld.

"We will keep a close eye on how the new law works in practice. We are prepared to look at further changes if they prove necessary," Joyce says.

When in Opposition, Finlayson called the legislation "a patch-up job" and "third-rate law reform."

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