Demands clarification of possible US govt intervention in helping to pass the controversial Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act, including the US music industry’s offer to fund an intellectual property enforcement unit to combat what US officials call “key gaps in intellectual property rights enforcement.”Says US influence over New Zealand’s copyright legislation undermines its democracy.
Yesterday, we reported Wikileaks cables from 2005 that detailed how the US govt was pushing New Zealand to hasten passage of the controversial Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act as well as the offer of funds to bankroll an intellectual property enforcement unit, and the New Zealand Green Party is none to happy after learning of the news.
“The latest Wikileaks cables show how vulnerable our Government is to pressure from big businesses in the USA,” said Green Party Information and Communications Technology spokesperson, Gareth Hughes.
The cables detailed a close working relationship between the US and NZ’ govt’s on the legislation. One in particular said the embassy “will continue to stress with GNZ officials the need for a shorter rather than protracted timeline for the redraft.”
A cable dated February 22nd, 2005 criticized the govt for allowing format and time-shifting for personal use since it would ostensibly done without the copyright owner’s expressed permission.
It said “these exceptions to copyright protection would send the wrong message to consumers and undermine efforts to curb unauthorized copying of CDs in New Zealand.”
“Both Labour and National Governments have been subject to intense lobbying from the US,” adds Hughes. “Hollywood moguls shouldn’t be writing our law!”
That’s apparently been the case because nobody other than copyright holder groups like the MPAA and RIAA, both of which claims making copies for personal use is illegal! The MPAA, if you recall, said the price of a DVD is predicated on the “notion of certain use rights associated with certain price points.”
“We’ve got to keep politics honest, so it’s important to find out exactly what influence US interests had in securing the rushed passage of controversial copyright legislation through Parliament,” says Hughes.
The revised Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act was passed in New Zealand last month. It allows for penalties of up to NZ$15,000 ($12,000) to be paid to the affected copyright owner, and repeat infringers can have their Internet account suspended for up to six months.
The Green Party also takes aim at apparent plans by the US recording industry to fund a joint intellectual property enforcement unit for New Zealand and the South Pacific region to combat what it considers “key gaps in intellectual property enforcement.”
“This kind of blatant intervention in local law enforcement is undermining our democracy,” adds Hughes. “The New Zealand Government has been subject to intense international corporate lobbying. As the Government consults further on the current online copyright regime, it must make decisions that work for the New Zealanders that elected them, not US interests.”
Once can only imagine what would happen if it was discovered that foreign govts and copyright holders had successfully lobbied the US govt behind the scenes to expand copyright protections and enforcement. Why should New Zealanders be any less angry?