The pirates are coming! The pirates are coming!

POSTED BY Rick Shera
27 October 2010

posted in | Intellectual Property | Copyright | Music



It's always fun to take a look at releases from RIANZ on copyright (tweeting under the name @lovemusicnz).  I like to see how an industry which is delivering better returns to musicians and composers year on year will try to convince us that it is foundering at the hands of those dastardly p2p pirates - the sons and daughters no doubt of the evil hometapers the BSA had in its sights in the 70s.

Of course RIANZ does not actually represent musicians and composers - it is the New Zealand outpost of the recording industry - but even it's members are doing quite nicely thank you very much (for more facts and figures see InternetNZ's submisison).

RIANZ's latest missive does not disappoint though.

A couple of choice quotes:

New Zealand's authors now face the same challenge that its filmmakers, musicians and software developers have for the past few years - selling their product in an online environment dominated by piracy.

I don't know about RIANZ but my internet is not dominated by piracy thank's very much.  Given Trade Me's pervasiveness in the New Zealand internet usage statistics, one would have expected to see just a smidgeon of evidence to support such a radical assertion.  Usually, there are at least misleading figures that are derrived from reports whose methodologies are shrouded in mystery, but not even that this time.

But, there was better to come ...

Policymakers in Wellington were so concerned about the damage caused by unfettered online piracy that they began the process of updating copyright law to tackle the problem three years ago. That process is continuing despite a change in government and protests from those that have become used to illegally accessing creative content for free.

Actually, the process of updating our copyright law started over 5 years ago and was a response to technological development not to piracy.  It was intended, in the words of the explanatory note to the original Bill, to:

... create a more technology-neutral framework.  It [was] not intended to change the balance between protection and access already established in the Act, but to ensure that the balance continues to operate in the face of new technologies.

That laudable objective was polluted by the backroom machinations of rightsholders such as RIANZ and Minister Judith Tizard, which lead to the unannounced introduction of the now infamous section 92A on April Fools Day 2008, a week before the Bill was passed.  If I was RIANZ, I'd keep quiet given it's hand in that debacle.

It annoys me also that anyone who disagrees with the heavy handed rightsholder approach is labelled as illegally accessing creative content for free.  The protests over section 92A, ACTA, three strikes, internet disconnection and what have you are a legitimate attempt to do just what the original Bill intended - to maintain balance.  They are made by people (and I am one) from many walks of life, including, importantly, the very musicians and artists that the likes of RIANZ purports to represent.  To label those who have those concerns effectively as thieves is just ... well .. silly.

As the article goes on to say, we are now nearing a balanced approach in New Zealand with the new proposals (although termination of an internet account is still an unworkable and disproportionate remedy).  That balance is accepted by most people so it's a pity RIANZ still feels the need to frame the debate as if the pirates are about to put New Zealand musicians and authors to the sword.

POSTED BY Rick Shera
27 October 2010

posted in l@w.geek.nzIntellectual PropertyCopyrightMusic



COMMENTS (0) Post a Comment

Authorisation Code:*
To prove you're human, please type the code in the grey box into the white box. The code is case-sensitive. If you can't read the code, click on the grey box to see a new code.