TelstraClear rejects copyright code

BY TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 14:55 11/03/2009
Fairfax Media
DEATHBLOW: TelstraClear's rejection of section 92a the Copyright Act should kill off the controversial law change.

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TelstraClear has dealt a death blow to section 92a of the Copyright Act, saying it would not support a code being drafted by the Telecommunications Carriers Forum that sets out how telcos would interpret the controversial law change.

Section 92a would oblige internet service providers "in appropriate circumstances" to cut off "repeat copyright infringers".

Prime Minister John Key announced last month that the introduction of section 92a would be delayed by a month till March 27 to give internet providers and the recording industry time to agree a code of practice setting out how they would interpret the clause.

If no agreement was reached, section 92a could be "suspended" and rewritten.

The Telecommunications Carriers Forum, which has represented the major telcos during negotiations, had hoped to hammer out a compromise with the recording industry that would have seen copyright infringers disconnected after a series of warnings, with the right of appeal to an independent arbiter.

But the forum needs unanimous support from its members - which include TelstraClear to ratify such an arrangement.

TelstraClear spokesman Mathew Bolland said the Government had been informed TelstraClear would not provide that support.

"You have got to have sympathy for the Government. They have inherited an ambiguous mess and you can understand why they might have hoped a code would make this go away. But we have had unprecedented customer concern and we can't try to make a bad law work.

"The idea our customers can be disconnected on accusation and not proof does not pass the 'fair test'."

Mr Bolland said other telcos knew where TelstraClear stood. "I think there will be general support. We have decided to stick our neck out - somebody has got to."

The original architect of section 92a, associate Commerce Minister Judith Tizard in the last Labour government, said the aim of the clause was to crack down on the piracy of music and movies over peer-to-peer networks.

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- The Dominion Post

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