Internet lobbyists want copyright changes scrapped

01:24, Feb 02 2009

The Government is keeping a watching brief on a new copyright law and is open to changes if it doesn't work but will not be dumping it before it comes into effect.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Steven Joyce said he was keeping a close eye on how section 92A of the Copyright Act worked.

The change comes into effect on February 28.

Last week the New Zealand Computer Society complained the change could see internet service providers (ISPs) having to cut off families and businesses, if a third party accuses them of copyright breaches.

Today the Internet Service Providers Association (Ispanz) called on the Government to drop the changes before they came into effect saying the law was poorly constructed and would force ISPs to cut off the internet access of those accused of repeat infringement of copyright.

Mr Joyce acknowledged there were concerns.


"The Telecommunications Forum is currently developing a code of practice for the Act and the Minister and MED are keeping informed as to how that comes together," he said.

"We will keep a close eye on how the new law works in practice. We are prepared to look at further changes if they prove necessary."

Ispanz president Jamie Baddeley said National should adhere to its previous opposition to the change made by the former Labour Government.

"If section 92A is allowed to come in, ISPs will have to disconnect organisations such as businesses, public libraries, government agencies etc as a result of accusations that an employee has used their computers for illegal downloading.

"The customer may be innocent, there may be an error, or the downloading may well have been done by a virus. Everyday Kiwis with a computer that has been inadvertently hacked may have their internet access terminated."

Mr Baddeley said under the law those accused were considered guilty and punished without proof.

Internet service providers were in an impossible position where if they did not act they could be sued but if they did cut off a user could be sued for breach of contract.

Several other internet technology organisations also opposed the law.