Wednesday, 13 April 2011

NZ Copyright Amendment Letter

I don't usually post non-PL-related things here, but there is some legislation brewing in New Zealand that is deeply unsettling to me, and so I'm publishing here the letter I wrote to my local Member of Parliament for the area which I cast my vote in:

Dear Mr Bennett,

I am writing to you as a constituent to express my deep concern for both the substance of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment currently before the house, and for the procedure by which this legislation has reached its current status.

The use of Parliamentary urgency under the auspices of assisting with the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquake to advance this controversial and flawed legislation is deeply disturbing to me. It reflects a perversion of the democratic process in which due time and consideration is given to the will of the people. This attempt to rush legislation with no particular time pressure attached to it through the house reflects poorly upon the dignity and legitimacy of our democracy.

Furthermore, the tone and substance of the debate in the house suggested that the majority of the MPs are not well-informed about the complex technical, legal and social implications of this legislation, particularly the "disconnection clause" that gives an extra-judicial remedy to intellectual property owners who are not required to submit to the usual burden of proof as in any other civil action. Given the fundamental nature of the internet within New Zealand business, education and personal life, this remedy that may be applied in the presence of a mere accusation seems disproportionate and set to disadvantage both the businesses that provide internet services within New Zealand, and the consumers of internet services who rely on them for so many facets of daily life.

As a doctoral student in Computer Science, the many technical and social issues that remain unaddressed by this legislation are perhaps more worrying to me than to those members of Parliament currently advancing this legislation. I (and many others within the internet community in New Zealand) feel that this legislation, while addressing a perceived problem, has not been adequately discussed and refined to the point where it could be effective in addressing the purported issues. This is another reason why attempting to effect this legislation so quickly is inappropriate.

I hope that you will take my genuine concerns in the spirit that they are given, and that you can be persuaded to oppose both the process and substance of this legislation until such a time as the full implications can be considered and discussed by the public at large, and effective, fair legislation can be drafted that will encourage the development of healthy creative industries and a healthy internet industry within New Zealand.

Yours sincerely,

Gian Perrone, B.Sc (Hons), M.Sc (Hons)

As an aside, be warned that if this legislation passes, anyone reading this letter on this blog is probably guilty of *gasp* file sharing!

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