ISPs agree on a code? Some chance

There's slim chance of ISPs widely adopting a cumbersome scheme being hammered out by the Telecommunications Carriers Forum to give teeth to section 92a of the Copyright Act.

Just reflect on the farce that unfolded over several years as the Government and InternetNZ tried to herd ISPs into adopting a light- handed code of practice setting out consumer rights.

True, no other telcos are likely to follow TelstraClear in rejecting outright the TCF's approach to implementing the troublesome clause.

Telecom has bigger fish to fry and won't pick a fight with the Government over section 92a. Of all the telcos, Vodafone has the most interest in seeing copyright law better enforced, because of its lucrative music download service and the relatively small size of its fixed-line broadband business.

Other ISPs will sympathise with TelstraClear, but most are to likely to shuffle their feet as the Government- set March 27 deadline for an industry agreement on the interpretation of section 92a passes.

The best outcome for music and movie pirates might be for parliamentarians to ignore the flogged horse in their midst and allow section 92a to come into force later this month regardless.

Without collaboration from ISPs in agreeing a common interpretation, section 92a will be of little use to copyright owners as it is so vague.

TelstraClear smelt a rat on the day it announced its stance, when it began fielding calls about speculation it was merely acting on the orders of parent Telstra.

The same day an equally implausible rumour surfaced that Vodafone New Zealand boss Russell Stanners had assured ministers he would "sort the issue" for the Government. Vodafone could never be accused of lacking self- confidence, but it is laughable to think it could be that sure of itself.

The Dominion Post