Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The file-sharing bill

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  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    They had months to do so through other channels

    Really? I think most people thought the Bill was being left to sleep for a while. I certainly did. And short-circuiting parts of the process removes some of those months.

    Labour's been very crap at communicating, and we're all agreed on that. But they're getting a lot of flack for this particular decision because it's not the one that fits the ideals of this community, rather than because they didn't communicate a better strategy in the non-existent period for public consultation as National rammed the Bill through the remaining stages.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    If Labour and the Greens can not successfully take on this madness (let alone what Brash will add to the mix) then they richly deserve to be booted out of parliament by voters.

    Sounds like Jones is starting to step up, and ask some intelligent questions in the House. Auckland rail carried over a million passengers last month, which is more than 35k passengers per day compared to Shon Key's much-trumpeted 27k people/day along the Puford route.

    Jones also has the mongrel streak to go for Joyce's throat, which is what's needed at this point. Parliamentary decorum be damned.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    This isn't a great law -- and the circumstances of its passing are odious -- but it's considerably better than it might have been.

    I've pondered this for a while and I'm not quite clear, Russell are you for or against the right to share files?

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    <i>...are you for or against the right to share files?</i>

    File sharing is not illegal per se. It's only illegal when the creator of the work asserts copyright and the person sharing the file doesn't have the right to do so.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4463 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Certainly, and granted some are able to make the ethical distinction; being against one and for the other.

    Given that on almost any given Friday this channel is pitched as a hub for the dissemination of copyrighted info and in light of Russell finding comparative positives in this legislation whilst categorically dismissing it as inadequate, I thought it can't hurt to ask.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Leon Tan,

    According to New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission, in the view of the Attorney-General, the recent Copyright (infringing file sharing) Amendment Bill passed by the New Zealand Government DOES in fact infringe on the basic human rights of New Zealanders. However, since the Attorney-General deems the objective of the legislation to be important and significant (namely protecting corporate interests), it justifies the abuse of New Zealanders. What is significant to note is that the New Zealand Attorney-General is not elected, and therefore not subject to democratic oversight by the people of New Zealand. This is concerning as it means that the Attorney-General may make all sorts of decisions on behalf of, or in this case, against New Zealand constituencies, without there being any recourse to corrective action by the public. Needless to say, it is also extremely alarming that the official of a democratically elected government would decide in favour of a media oligopoly, flagrantly disregarding human rights frameworks.

    Auckland • Since May 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Leon Tan,

    What is significant to note is that the New Zealand Attorney-General is not elected, and therefore not subject to democratic oversight by the people of New Zealand

    I beg your pardon? That's like saying that the minister of defence is not elected. Of course our AG is elected, just like any other member of parliament. What we lack compared to some other countries is in fact a(n unelected) constitutional court that can strike down measures found to be in breach of the constitution (which we don't have) or bill of rights (which we have, but is not binding).

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Leon Tan,

    According to New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission

    Link or citation please

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16759 posts Report Reply

  • Leon Tan,

    Giovanni, you read that right, yes, and yes I am saying that the public is not directly electing Ministers, nor the AG. Saying the AG is elected 'just like any other member of parliament' is not entirely accurate. From what I recall of the voting forms, there are instances where an MP is directly elected, then there are list MPs.

    Of course a great deal of the government is not subject to democratic oversight. The tragedy is that the appearance of democracy (representative democracy) is hardly democratic.

    It's not just a matter of the Bill of Rights. NZ is also party to the ICESCR, and from memory, is party to the UDHR also. Its no coincidence these are not binding. The point is to make them so.

    Sacha, I found this out as a result of lodging a complaint with the HRC. There is no link, as it was a letter to me.

    Auckland • Since May 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Leon Tan, in reply to Sacha,

    'The Attorney-General considered that the special enforcement regime for addressing file sharing was inconsistent with s.14 (“the right to freedom of expression”) but that, as the objective of the legislation was to provide for an enforcement regime for instances of file sharing that infringe copyright, it amounted to an important and significant objective and this justified the infringement.

    The Attorney-General’s analysis suggests that it would be hard to get the legislation set aside.'

    A direct quote from the letter from the HRC to me, for what its worth. It should be noted that the ICESCR committee has in fact advised that all governments should conduct a HR impact assessment of prevailing IP regimes, and that what is left out is the right to participation in cultural life. You can find out more about the contentious politics of file sharing in an article I wrote last year -- http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=672

    Auckland • Since May 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    Wikileaks have released some cables related to the US involvement in creating NZ laws and funding a copyright enforcement unit,

    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5769/125/

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Leon, electing law enforcement officials can go horribly, horribly wrong in so many awful ways that I'm immensely glad that NZ doesn't directly elect its Attorney General. I'll point out that not even the United States, that home of elected officialdom at every tier of civil service, elects its AG. Their AG is an appointee of the President, which means they're even less accountable to the prolles than is our AG.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Leon Tan,

    I found this out as a result of lodging a complaint with the HRC

    Thanks, Leon.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16759 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to anth,

    Yeah I saw this - according to the US cable the US embassy:

    "Throughout the final stages of the law's (near) implementation, the Embassy continued to met with IPR stakeholders and GNZ officials to ascertain progress and encourage resolution".

    Apparently the government met with the Americans but certainly didn't hold hearings around NZ to let the rest of us to have a say.

    They also offered to help with drafting the replacement and propaganda:

    "During this hiatus we've proposed ... to possibly help with drafting and as a public diplomacy tool to dispel public misperceptions...."

    (Now I see people claiming the bill was rushed thru in urgency because this connection was about to come out ...)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2174 posts Report Reply

  • Leon Tan, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    What the Wikileaks information suggests (thanks anth and Paul Campbell) is in fact far worse even that what you propose... (and I do not disagree that there are problems with elections - I think the long duration history of 'democracy' shows there are other options also, such as sortition). It suggests that New Zealand as a client state of the US, effectively engages in what Charles Tilly calls a form of 'organized crime' against its own constituencies.

    In the case of online file-sharing, it appears that both NZ and American governments have taken on media firms as 'clients,' the former at the behest of the latter. By certifying the claims and contention of media firms in the form of the new legislation, the NZ government clearly functions to protect its clients by eliminating/neutralizing enemies, who in this case, happen to be its own citizens and constituencies. For its citizens, the price for the protection of the NZ government is conformism with the (American) copyright status quo. Such protection is withdrawn in the case of potentially all file-sharers, and replaced with violence in the form of termination/suspension. This is what we may call the 'copyright racket.'

    Auckland • Since May 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

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