Copyright treaty not the cause of S92A delay

BY TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2009

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The Government has denied that negotiations over a new international copyright treaty are delaying a decision over how hard it should come down on internet pirates.

The assurance will be a relief to internet advocates, whose pulses have once again been sent racing by leaked details of talks concerning a new international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).

Commerce Minister Simon Power had expected to reveal details last month of a reworked section 92A of the Copyright Act that will set out what action can be taken against people who illegally download music and movies.

A controversial plan to force internet providers to take action against repeat copyright infringers "in reasonable circumstances" was scrapped in March after public protests. However, that appears to be the goal of United States policymakers, according to a leaked European Union briefing paper that preceded negotiations over Acta in South Korea earlier this month.

An Economic Development Ministry official says decisions on the new-look section 92A should be made in a month or so. "This is a complex issue and has taken a little more time than anticipated. Acta negotiations are a separate issue and have no impact on this work," the official says.

A spokeswoman for Mr Power says no new arguments or policy issues have emerged since a panel of experts issued a report in July. It recommended that arbitrators or the Copyright Tribunal would have the power to fine or disconnect pirates.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft, which represents the interests of the major United States movie studios in New Zealand, has criticised that approach as impractical, calling instead for "streamlined justice", as provided for in the original section 92A.

Members of the European Parliament and the European Council agreed restrictions on internet access could be imposed only "with due respect for the principle of the presumption of innocence" following a fair procedure where the "right to be heard" was guaranteed.

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- The Dominion Post

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