Labour 'about face' on three strikes net law

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER AND ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 12:25 31/08/2011

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Labour have been accused of an "about face" over the controversial new Skynet law.

Communications spokeswoman Clare Curran today said the party would introduce a bill in the first three months of taking office to remove the threat that people who pirated material on the internet might have their internet accounts suspended.

Curran said Labour would also review the Copyright Act, with the aim of introducing a new law within 18 months of being elected to "update and extend the framework for digital copyright in New Zealand".

However, the party supported the government's "three-strikes" legislation through Parliament.

And earlier this year its MPs refused to vote for an amendment to remove the disconnection clause, proposed by Green party MP Gareth Hughes.

Hughes said the latest statement was "an about face".

"I welcome it, but it would have been more beneficial if it came before the law was passed.''

It was also Labour minister Judith Tizard who introduced the hated Section 92A which said: "Internet service providers must have policy for terminating accounts of repeat infringers".  

The clause sparked an Internet 'blackout' protest and was eventually removed from the legislation by this government.

A controversial "three-strikes" section of the Copyright Act takes effect tomorrow that means people who infringe copyright using the internet can be dragged in front of the Copyright Tribunal and fined up to $15,000 on their third warning from copyright owners.

The three-strikes regime is not expected to be widely used by rights holders, however, because of the high $25 fee they must pay to internet providers to forward those warnings to internet users and a $200 fee for bringing cases in front of the tribunal.

Curran said Labour remained committed to protecting the rights of the creators of works but said citizens everywhere were hungry for information and creative material and it was "absolutely essential we get the balance right".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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