Illegal File Sharing Bill Shows All That is Bad with Politics

There are plenty of people who are a bit angry today.

Make that really angry.

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill is a contentious bill with history of internet protest. Maybe the knowledge that more highly visible protest would precede any passing of this bill caused the government to rush the Bill through parliament under urgency.

While the Bill has been changed to be more balanced than in it’s early incarnations, it’s termination clause was still a reason to protest.

But what this really highlighted, was not so much the content of the Bill itself, but the politics surrounding it.

Admissions from National politicians, that discussions with other countries over free trade talks were a consideration, gave a feeling that there were underhanded reasons for what was happening last night.

So what is urgency? Here is a link to the NZ Parliament site that explains:

The House of Representatives sometimes goes into “urgency” to make progress on business additional to what would be possible under the normal rules for sitting hours and progress of business.

Now this session of Urgency was called to deal with legislation related to the Christchurch Earthquake. However, completely unrelated business can be added.

Given that Copyright issues have absolutely nothing to do with the earthquake, one can make the following assumptions:

  • The Government had some other agenda (Maybe this was part of the free trade negotiations)
  • Pressure was being applied by supporters of the Bill (In this case the likely supporters are Record and Movie companies)
  • By passing under urgency, with no notice, anticipated protest could be held to a minimum

Regardless of your opinions on the pros and cons of the “Three Strikes” and final sanction of internet account holder suspension, the conduct of the MP’s who were in the debating chamber last night made for some interesting insights.

I was up watching Parliament TV streaming online here, so were many others, possibly giving Parliament TV it’s best ratings ever. Alongside my stream was my Twitter feed and especially the comments tagged with #blackout.

It was an amazing and compelling evening of watching most MP’s wallow in their abject understanding of the topic they were debating, while those interested spectators spouted vitriol towards them via Social Media.

Special mention must go to Gareth Hughes (@GarethMP), Jacinda Adren (@jacindaardern) and Clare Curran (@clarecurranmp) who seemed to at least have a working understanding of what was being discussed.

Brickbats go to Melissa Lee and Jonathan Young who seemed so unsure of the terminology and the concepts being discussed that they are now stars in their own parodies of themselves.

Quite how a piece of legislation can be debated by those who are completely unqualified and also when key players are away (The Minister of Commerce, Simon Power) is amazing, maybe there should be a quiz before entering the chamber to test the knowledge of those wanting to participate in the debate.

As of this morning, the Bill was passed, with both Labour and National voting for, with the Greens the majority of those opposed.

It won’t spell the end of the internet, but the political process has exposed to many as a farce.

It seems the Greens got a few more supporters last night. Will it make a difference come election day?

Movie Studios Digging their Claws in

The Movie Studios are hardening their stance on the new revision of the copyright law under discussion.

They are not happy with the most recent revision that includes a judicial review.

Tellingly, one of their complaints is the possibility of the process being bogged down in red tape, therefore making it difficult for them to deal with copyright infringers.

On the other side, the Creative Freedom Foundation are determined that there is “due process” and that the studios will not be able to run the process to the detriment of consumers.

This disagreement is only about the last part of the process, where a repeat infringer who has not been swayed from infringing by warnings, is refered to a copyright Tribunal with the possibility of internet account termination.

I still believe that the warnings are going to deal with most of the problems, as there will be plenty of people who will continue until they are threatened with a warning.

I also think that “due process” is necessary to protect consumers from heavy handed tactics by copyright holders.

It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

Copyright Law in NZ recommendations due shortly

After the Black Out campaign gained some time for reasoned thought about the new copyright law, the new recommendations are due shortly about it’s implementation.

The previously drafted legislation called for termination of infringer’s internet accounts for repeated copyright violations. This created the Black Out backlash and so now we wait to see how things will be treated this time.

The Creative Freedom Foundation say that disconnection is disproportionate to the crime while interestingly internet access has been claimed an “essential utility” by people in the UK.

InternetNZ also think that disconnection should not be considered.

However, things point to a revised version of the original law with a level of Arbitration to decide on terminations.

I think that a series of warnings and increased fines would be sufficient to deter most people, and termination only avaialble if all other preceding actions have been ignored by the user.

This would alleviate the issue with users being scared of disconnection for unknown violations.

It would also help provide safety for those parents who are unaware of their children’s internet activity.

Any legislation of this kind must also be delivered with some clear definitions of what is infringing content.

What do you do about Youtube? Myspace, Blogs that may have infringing information on it. It would make more sense dealing with the source of the information than the end users.

These things need clarification before any measures are taken to ban them.

Once we have an announcement I will post again on it’s content.