Yesterday the New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZFACT), the local representative of the movie industry, launched a booklet in te reo Maori highlighting the dangers of infringing copyright.
According to press blurb, 12,000 copies of the booklet are to be distributed, matching a 2008 campaign fronted by Temuera Morrison which saw 75,000 copies of an English language version mailed out.
Whilst any effort to educate the public on copyright issues can only be a good thing, NZFACT's efforts seem a little too little, a lot too late. With Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment (New Technologies) Act less than 3 weeks away from coming into force, scope for confusion and chaos is rife.
Sadly, internet subscribers are likely to emerge as the real losers out of this sorry situation.
Although Section 92A has seen the subject to intense debate in the tech media and geek forums, I'd be willing to wager that most New Zealanders still remain largely ignorant of laws that are likely to have a huge affect on them from February 28 onwards.
This said, at least NZFACT has made an attempt to educate. Other similar copyright lobbyist bodies, ISPs and law makers are likely to struggle with any form of education beyond a basic "copyright infringement is bad" message until the dust storm surrounding Section 92A subsides.
Section 92A stipulates that Internet Service Providers must formulate policies around terminating internet connections of repeat copyright infringers. To this end, the TCF (Telecommunication Carriers Forum) who represent many ISPs have developed a draft code of conduct.
Debate around the TCF's proposed code of conduct looks set to intensify as interested parties from all sides make submissions to the TCF and lobby for changes to the code.
An unfortunate side-effect of this will most likely be growing levels of confusion which is in turn expected to make educating the public around the specifics of any warning/disconnection system next to impossible.
Further complicating matters, the proposed code of conduct only applies to signatories to the TCF. Many smaller ISPs who aren't TCF members will have to formulate their own code of conduct under the new laws.
Whilst many are likely to adopt codes similar to those proposed by the TCF, variations are highly likely, adding even more confusion to educating the public.
With the deadline date for submissions to the TCF's proposed code of conduct on the 6th of March, the final shape of the code is unlikely to be apparent for quite some time.
Taking this into account, any attempts at educating internet subscribers are probably unlikely to happen until late March or April. Could it be that an amnesty period for internet users until the various codes of conduct are finalised might be a good idea?
Pat Pilcher works for Telecom, but does not represent the organisation's views.