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'Blackout' protest over controversial copyright law reaches Parliament

Thursday 19 Feb 2009 12:00a.m.

'Blackout' protest over controversial copyright law reaches Parliament
The internet 'blackout' protest that has been running for the past few days has reached Parliament.

Protesters demanded the repeal of a new copyright law due to come into effect later this month.

They say when it does, they will run the risk of having their internet connections cut if they persist in taking free downloads of music and movies.

The internet community is calling for a "blackout" on Section 92a of the Copyright Amendment Act.

Protest organiser Bronwyn Holloway-Smith says the proposed legislation will treat people who download music or movies like criminals.

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith: “What we're concerned about is the fact that this law will remove New Zealanders’ fundamental rights to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and that's not something artists want done in their name.”

Section 92a puts the onus on internet service providers to disconnect customers who repeatedly access copyrighted material online.

But ISPs say they don't want to be the internet police.

Jaime Baddley, ISP Association: “The problem with that is proof, the quality of the accusation. Are we a hundred percent guaranteed that it's going to be their infringing or are we sort of ninety percent sure that they are infringing?”

And those who rely on the internet for their livelihood say the law has the potential to cripple their business.

John Clegg: “I need to make sure my services are on 24/7and I can't have someone coming and turning me off because something has happened that I can't defend it or I can't say, well, ‘Let’s work through this’.”

The "blackout" campaign's gained national and international attention - websites, blogs and social networking sites are blacking out content to show support. 

But the Australasian Performing Rights Association says while the drafting of the document is clumsy, repealing it isn't the solution.

Arthur Baysting, APRA: “Already around the world wide net 80 percent of the music is being used illegally and what these people are asking is for even more to open that door even wider.”

The proposed changes come into force at the end of this month and while the internet community is renowned for its resourcefulness in getting around regulations, they say if Section 92a becomes law then there is no way around it for them.

3 News

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