NZ Law Society wants people kicked off internet completely (updated)

POSTED BY Rick Shera
28 July 2010

posted in | Intellectual Property | Copyright | Legislation | Lawyer News



I'm a member of the NZ Law Society.  So, I am interested to see that my Society is up tomorrow before the Select Committee dealing with the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill

I have been heavily involved in this area since 2006, when the first iteration of the now infamous section 92A was introduced.  So, I am interested on two counts:

  1. I may have missed it, but I am not aware of any consultation which has taken place to assist the Society to reach any views expressed in its submission (PDF).[see the update below for a new link]
  2. I wondered therefore what the Society might be saying to the Select Committee.

Of course with a membership body representing a diverse constituency, it is always going to be difficult for the Society to make any concrete recommendations.  I expected that would particularly be the case with copyright law where the competing interests are always so finely balanced.  And, as I read through the submission (PDF) [see the update below for a new link], I was comforted to see that it had held to that relatively agnostic line.  Leave it to others to espouse partisan positions I thought.

That was until I got to para 36:

Section 122O should be amended to provide the Court with the power to order that the account holder may not open an account with another ISP during the period of any suspension.

Say what?!  In the face of most people arguing that termination is a draconian and disproportionate remedy which won't work, the New Zealand law Society wants to stop a copyright infringer from accessing the internet completely for 6 months, through any ISP?  No indication of how the Society expects such a prohibition to be policed or why it considers that the adverse consequences of complete termination are justified. In fact, to enforce this we'd have to adopt some sort of centralised blacklist a la France's HADOPI or as was at the last minute discarded from the Digital Economy Act in the UK.  No thanks.

Ironically, since the only way that lawyers can conduct conveyancing transactions is by using the Government's Landonline internet portal, if accepted, the Society's submission would prevent a repeat copyright infringing Society conveyancer from practicing altogether.  I don't condone copyright infringement for one moment but, come on, how can my Society really suggest that preventing its members from practicing is a fair penalty for copyright infringement?

UPDATED 30 July 2010: As my colleague Guy Burgess points out, the NZLS submission was removed from its site but it is available on the Parliament site

UPDATED AGAIN 30 July 2010:  I now understand that, without explanation, NZLS did not front to present its submission to the Select Committee yesterday despite having requested, and having been allocated, a slot to do so.

UPDATED 3 AUGUST 2010:  Stephen Bell over at Computerworld picked up on this and rang for a chat yesterday.  He has written about it with quotes from me and comments also from Clive Elliott, who had a hand in the NZLS submission.  I know Clive through various professional contacts over the years and I hadn't picked him for a copyright maximalist I must say.  It is hard to accept that anyone in this day and age would be prepared to force people to use unsecure connectivity at internet cafes or other public internet access (assuming that is available, which it won't be in some areas), or, worse still, snail mail. The fact that our Government is mandating us to interact solely via the internet in all sorts areas (tax returns, company return filing etc), also puts paid to this in my view.

POSTED BY Rick Shera
28 July 2010

posted in l@w.geek.nzIntellectual PropertyCopyrightLegislationLawyer News



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