Labour promises online copyright reform

'Three stikes' law comes into effect tomorrow

The Labour party has put up a likely election-pleaser on the copyright front with promises to repeal the Copyright (Infringing File-Sharing) Act’s “internet termination” clause and to embark on a broader-ranging review of the Copyright Act if it is elected to government.

The controversial new law comes into effect tomorrow, September 1.

Opposition ICT spokesperson Clare Curran promises removal of the termination clause within 90 days of a Labour-led government being elected. The clause, which will allow a District Court to order the closing of a persistent copyright offender’s internet account for six months, is currently inactive, but can be brought into play with an Order in Council if the content-owning industry argues convincingly that existing penalties are not reducing illegal downloads.

The Labour party was widely criticised for having voted with the National-led government on a Bill text including the termination clause, despite having expressed its opposition to such a clause in debate on the Bill.

“Labour voted for the Bill in April because we stuck by a commitment to work with the government to enable internet service providers and rights holders to reach a compromise on copyright law,” Curran says.

A termination provision, however, is “unsustainable”, she now says.

“Labour remains committed to protecting the rights of the creators of works,” Curran adds. “This is a debate about shifting power, access to information, outdated business models and the immense potential of the internet to change our world. No parliament anywhere knows what to do about it yet, but Labour is committed to trying to find solutions.”

Such solutions are broader than changing one clause in the Act, she says. Labour’s review of the Act – promised to bring introduction of a Bill within 18 months – will be directed to “encouraging new business models to emerge which will distribute digital content easily and affordably.”

The copyright legislation policies will be released as part of Labour’s ICT and innovation policies in the next few weeks.

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