Their mouths may have been taped shut but the protest message rang clear a call for the Government to remove or delay "unjust" changes to internet copyright laws.
Hundreds of protesters descended yesterday afternoon on Parliament, where Creative Freedom Foundation founder Bronwyn Holloway-Smith presented a petition of more than 148 written signatures as well 10,000 signatures collected online to UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne.
The gathering was part of Internet Blackout Week a campaign against section 92a, the "guilt by accusation" clause, due to be inserted into the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008 next week.
Protesters say it means material will have to be removed from the internet if an accusation of breach of copyright is made even if it is not proven. It would mean internet service providers would have to take on the role of gatekeepers, blocking online access to anyone accused of flouting copyright laws and illegally downloading films or music.
Some protesters have blacked out parts of their webpages for a week.
Mr Dunne said the law reminded him of debate that surrounded the now-repealed Electoral Finance Act.
"Parliament took too long to listen," he said. "We can't afford to make the same mistake ... this battle is far from over. It's urgent ... and it's an unjust law." He tabled the petition at Parliament and said he had spoken about the issue with Prime Minister John Key and Commerce Minister Simon Power who were "well aware" of mounting concerns.
Protester Chad Moffitt said users could have internet connections cut off without proof they had broken rules. "There's so many people that could get inadvertently stung," he said. "We're not criminals".
Green MP Metiria Turei has joined calls for the Government to keep "guilt upon accusation provisions" out of the Copyright Act. The law is due to take effect on February 28.
- The Dominion Post