Next month, New Zealand is scheduled to implement Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act. The controversial act provides ‘Guilt Upon Accusation’, which means that if a file-sharer is simply accused of copyright infringement, they are immediately guilty. The punishment – summary Internet disconnection.
The term “3 Strikes” is a familiar one to those monitoring attempts to crack down on illicit file-sharing. Many countries are looking at proposals which if implemented, would mean that a ‘graduated response’ is taken against those accused of online copyright infringement. ‘Strike One’ would earn the infringer a warning, ‘Strike Two’ would result in a slowing of the user’s Internet connection, with Internet disconnection proposed on a third accusation.
However draconian these proposals might appear, they are nothing compared to the proposed ‘Section 92′ of the Copyright Amendment Act in New Zealand. Scheduled for introduction at the end of February 2009, the act assumes that any individual simply accused of sharing copyright works on the Internet, is guilty. The punishment for ‘guilty’ is summary disconnection from the Internet. Understandably, this proposal hasn’t been well received by many outside of the entertainment industries. Indeed, RIANZ, New Zealand’s answer to the RIAA, has been a vocal supporter.
One group voicing dissent is The Creative Freedom Foundation. On December 18th the group launched with the aim to “unite artists who are against the removal of New Zealander’s rights through proposed changes in Copyright law, done in the name of protecting creativity.”
Foundation Co-Founder and Director, Bronwyn Holloway-Smith is strongly opposed to Section 92, which she says threatens Internet disconnections “without evidence or even a trial.”
“The result of this law could be that one rogue employee or even one virus infected computer could bring down a whole organization’s internet and it’s highly likely that schools, businesses, hospitals, and phone services will be harmed by this,” she said.
Hollyway-Smith warns that as the government has shown support for the bill, unless there is a major public protest against it the proposals will “roll over into law” – just 54 days from now. To this end, the foundation has started a petition and campaign against the “Guilt Upon Accusation” laws, called “Not in my Name”. The petition can be signed on the Creative Freedom Foundation website.