Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Sunday, February 22, 2009

UPDATED: Why have we got this terrible copyright law?

Over on Geekzone, Juha Saarinen is running a great piece on why the last government ignored submissions and Bill of Rights considerations to ram this unjust law through. Apparently, it’s a requirement of a free trade deal with the US.

Let’s just pause and examine this. If the US want to change our law, how come they make it stronger than own? Answer: to build up public pressure for further tightening at home. And, why don’t our politicians come clean about this as the real reason for introducing the harshest law in the world? Answer: because they want to be able to blow their own trumpets for introducing an FTA without people realising they gave away our rights for it.

Even John Key thinks the law is draconian, not well-drafted, and pretty ropey. (His words, listen to the MP3 and skip forward to 8 min 20s.) He tries to blame Judith Tizard for the law. But he’s not rushing to fix it. UPDATE: The implementation has been delayed until 29th March. Well done for listening, John.

Australia got an FTA with the US. It was signed by politicians because they had to – they had already puffed it hard in the press and it would have been politically embarrassing not to. But it was signed against the advice of trade officials who realised that the FTA Australia was able to negotiate gave away more than it received in return, as it has since proved. Anyone think we could do better?

Before someone says how essential trade is – yes, of course it is. But a Free Trade Agreement is an oxymoron – either you have free trade or you don’t. And if you don’t, then an agreement might better be called a restricted trade agreement, because that is its effect. Perhaps it’s slightly less restricted than what went before.

If politicians deem it justified to legislate away New Zealanders’ rights to a handful of multinationals in exchange for improved trade, let’s have that debate. Don’t be shy, let’s get the costs and benefits out on the table. Then we can all discuss them. We may not all agree, but a least we all get to see what the balance is.

Or, if Juha and I are wrong that this is all about trade – let the government deny it publicly. Then, explain why we have to have this law when more New Zealand artists are members of the Creative Freedom Foundation than APRA.

Finally, Dylan Horrocks has drawn a fantastic cartoon – spread it far and wide!


posted by colin at 3:12 pm  


  1. Colin

    Let’s get as much information out into the open as possible. For example, which lobby company (or companies) pushed this through Wellington?

    It’s got professional lobbyist written all over it.

    Comment by Bill Bennett — 22 February 2009 @ 7:32 pm

  2. It has, hasn’t it?

    If you know, and you read this – leave a comment below.


    Comment by colin — 22 February 2009 @ 10:13 pm

  3. Er, surely RIANZ (via pressure from RIAA) would be the likely suspect, no?

    Comment by Anon — 24 February 2009 @ 2:52 am

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