NZ internet piracy policy one-sided, says expert

By Hamish Fletcher

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The Government's "three-strikes" policy aiming to tackle online piracy lacks the depth and sophistication found in Europe's reform of copyright law, says an international expert.

Parliament passed changes to the Copyright Act last month, which will allows rights holders to issue warnings to users believed to be illegally downloading copyrighted content.

A third suspected infringement will see the copyright owner able to seek a court order to suspend the offender's internet account. The law comes into effect in September.

This focus on enforcement contrasts with an announcement this week from the Irish Government that it will review, identify and work to amend parts of copyright law which could harm digital innovation.

"I am determined that government will make whatever changes are necessary to allow innovative digital companies reach their full potential," Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said in a statement to Irish media.

"If [a review] finds that there are changes can be made, within the confines of [European Union laws], which can enhance the environment for innovation by digital companies, I will move swiftly to act," he said.

A similar review was launched in January in the United Kingdom and a final report is due out within the next fortnight.

Ericsson's director of government and industry relations, Rene Summer, who was involved in the UK review, said these debates are more well-rounded than those that took place in New Zealand.

"[Copyright rules] in New Zealand are more one-sided. It's only looked at the enforcement and didn't look at the other side of the equation [and whether] we also need to promote the availability of knowledge, content and information and if so, how does that reflect on copyright?" Summer said.

MPs faced a barrage of attacks and criticism from commentators over the last month, with many in the online community feeling that the Government did not understand the issues they were debating.

Summer stressed that enforcement was still very important, but would not deal with the root cause of copyright infringement.

"Enforcement is definitely [important for the] growth of digital markets, but what enforcement does not address is the lack of availability of legal digital content," he said.

- NZ Herald

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