New Zealand's copyright bill report strikes criticism

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A report by Parliament's commerce select committee has been released on the bill seeking to amend New Zealand's current copyright law. InternetNZ has voiced their disappointment in the report and the bill.

Currently under New Zealand law it is illegal, but common, for example, to copy a CD's music for playing on a digital music player. The Copyright (New Technologies and Performers' Rights) Amendment Bill now makes this legal as long as there is only one copy for anyone in the same household, the original CD is kept and it is not sold. The bill had previously included time restrictions for this, but they have now been removed.

...copyright law in New Zealand needs to be completely re-thought in the context of modern technology and the Internet.

—Keith Davidson.

The report also wishes the bill to be amended to give more power to the copyright holders. The proposed amendment would allow the copyright holders to decide whether or not they wish their works to be exempt under the new, proposed law. The only condition is that the consumers are informed of this decision.

Commentators have cried out against this, they state that there is not much of a point if they can decide not to be applicable to the law. The Internet Society of New Zealand (InternetNZ) executive director, Keith Davidson, has said, "The removal of the two year expiry is good, but what’s the point of offering format shifting to the public when the music industry can opt out of allowing it?"

It will also be illegal for people to try and bypass security that disables copying, like that found on DVDs. A conviction would pose either a NZ$150,000 fine or five years in jail.

Davidson says that InternetNZ does not support the bill in its amended form by the committee. "Overall, the Bill as reported back does contain improvements on the draft. [...] The Committee is recommending legislation that is not fit for purpose."