Copyright Bill submission

I just made a submission to the Select Committee reviewing the Copyright Amendment Bill. You can too.

Here it is:

The bill is much improved from previous versions, and I thank the committee for that.

Like the other co-founders of Pacific Fibre I was driven to start the project by a sense of frustration at the digital divide between New Zealand and the rest of the world. I believe we will be left behind until we live in a country where high speed uncapped data, wireless or wired, is a fact of life, where internet access is pervasive and all of our devices are connected continuously. We seek to help NZ get to this vision. It is therefore frustrating to see a bill that drives us in the other direction.

(I write for myself not for Pacific Fibre in this submission)

I wish to object to the concept of disconnection being a reasonable penalty.

Internet access is increasingly a basic utility for everyone. The internet generation grew up knowing that is is always there, and even I, over 40, cannot function in society or work without it.

I use my home internet connection almost constantly for work and leisure, including for delivery of media such as television and movies.

I spend more time using internet telephony and video services than I do my cell phone, and have not connected a home telephone for years.

While it can be difficult to keep up with the latest social networking craze, it is important that everyone has access to these sites so that they can remain a part of their society. This is particularly true for younger people, who are those most likely to be affected by disconnection.

In short disconnection removes the right to work, to communicate with friends, to participate in society and even to make online submissions. It is also ineffective as a deterrent for the biggest offenders, who will use relatively simple methods to disguise their behaviour.

At worst disconnection may even bring a risk of accidental death – perhaps someone in trouble who has no other means of communicating, or someone who requires urgent access to medical information, or simply an alarm system that fails to operate.

I do believe that we should have a very tough penalty for the worst offenders – and if removal from society is to be that penalty, then let us use prisons for doing so. The punishment should relate to the crime.

Many thanks for the opportunity to submit on this bill. I would welcome the opportunity to appear before the committee.

Lance Wiggs

Wellington

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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5 Responses to Copyright Bill submission

  1. Rick Shera says:

    Have been collecting examples where lack of internet connection would mean compliance with law is not possible because interaction with Government is mandated to be online only. Hashtag #onlineonly

    Examples include filing company annual returns, filing PAYE returns for some employers, registering financing statements to record mortgages and transfers of real estate. All of these MUST be done online – there is no alternative.

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  2. missprints says:

    But you will only be disconnected if you persistently violate the rights of the copyright holder. According to the MED you will be warned, then cautioned, and disconnection will be a last resort.
    If you are a ‘consistent violator’, what other punishment would make you reconsider?

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    • Lance Wiggs says:

      Jail – prison time would make me reconsider – and that means that the crime should be serious. Being disconnected from a world we are are increasingly required to be connected is a harsh penalty that will become even harsher over time. Does the punishment fit the crime?

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  3. Rick Shera says:

    @missprint

    There are already fines up to $15,000 in the Bill so that is incentive enough in this fast track system. If there really is large scale infringement, there is nothing to stop the copyright owner going to Court (as it can do now) to seek injunctive relief and damages (even special damages for flagrant infringement, if it wishes). Conversely, since termination is only with respect to the user’s account with one ISP, it will be ineffective anyway as the infringer need only sign with another ISP. Most hardcore infringers (the “serious” infringers the termination penalty is meant to be aimed at) will not get caught as they will use other less detectable methods.

    Even the most ardent supporter of termination, NZFACT (our local MPA affiliate), admits it’s surveys show 70% of people would stop infringing if they were just sent a notice vs only 60% with the threat of termination. These figures tally with the Canadian experience where an informal notice only system has been operating successfully for some years.

    We don’t cur off people’s electricity or water when they repeatedly use it to grow marijuana (a crime) so why would we cut off people’s internet when they repeatedly use it for copyright infringement (only a civil matter)? Reason we don’t: All are now utilities, as Lance says.

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  4. Salty says:

    I’m struggling with the arguments made here. It seems to me to be a case of what’s considered a “need” vs a “want”
    for Lance Wiggs is invalid for 99% of the population.

    “At worst disconnection may even bring a risk of accidental death – perhaps someone in trouble who has no other means of communicating, or someone who requires urgent access to medical information, or simply an alarm system that fails to operate.”

    So you’re saying that a technology thats only become what could be semi described as “pervasive” in the last couple of years – the blink of an eye in our societies timeline has become a life supporting system? I’d argue with that!

    I’m at least as tech savvy as anybody i know and i can say hand on heart that I and almost anybody i could personally name could walk away from Internet access and not struggle overly to survive or even to function day to day. C’mon! An inconvenience at most.

    And if you could prove that it came to that for somebody who had been “disconnected”, whats to stop them from visiting the local internet cafe??? Interestingly, if i became disconnected, could i still go about my day job as a web developer from my employers premises?

    Could somebody please clearly enumerate for me how we are going to be left behind without fat data pipes?

    I’m not saying we won’t be – i just haven’t seen a clear and concise number of arguments for how exactly this would occur? My company work soley for a large offshore account and the least of our problems is bandwidth.

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