New Zealand's copyright minister starts screaming when asked whether it's fair to cut people off from the Internet on the basis of three unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement

Mark sez, "Colin Jackson is a well-known IT consultant in New Zealand and former President of InternetNZ. Colin attended a meeting with the Minister in charge of copyright on Monday to talk about a proposal to kick people off the internet on the basis of three unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement, and she lost her temper and yelled at them."
The meeting was set down for 45 minutes from 3:45. When it opened, Judith Tizard spent 30 minutes telling us why the change had to be made. She began by strongly expressing her anger that we had complained to her at this stage in the proceedings. None of us, she said, had been to see her before this on this topic. When we protested that we had worked with the Select Committee, which had removed this provision - and balanced it with one which made licence holders liable for false accusations - she said that this was completely inappropriate of the Select Committee, because Cabinet had already decided this was going ahead. We should not have been surprised, we were told, that this provision was reinserted by the government at the last minute before the bill was passed. (It’s worth noting here that Judith has been to the two New Zealand Foo Camps and was engaged roundly on copyright both times.)

She set forth strong views about how the launch of Sione’s Wedding had been ruined, about how studios in Auckland were running out of work, and about how artists were mortgaging their homes to make films and music and were not making any returns on their investments, all, she said, because of Internet piracy...

When we suggested that natural justice would imply that it was unreasonable to withdraw Internet access based on an accusation, she reiterated her position that something had to be done and that ISPs had to do it. ISPs, she said, need to negotiate with the licence holders to put in a regime to prevent copyright infringements. The licence holders’ associations had assured her that they would not be unreasonable.

In response to being told that it is technically impossible for ISPs to tell what people are doing, Judith said that it had been done for child pornography and that ISPs need to apply the same standards. It was pointed out that the state defines objectionable material, possession of which is a crime, but there’s no equivalent definition for copyright, infringement of which is a civil matter to be determined by courts.

Of all the unreasonable and awful proposals to come out of the entertainment industry, none is so bad as the three-strikes rule, a rule that would leave everyday people vulnerable to having the connection that brings them freedom of speech, of assembly and the press, the link that connects them to family, school, work and government, terminated because someone, somewhere made three accusations of copyright infringement, without having to offer a shred of evidence.

I think there's an easy answer to this: a three-strikes rule that cuts both ways: so yes, we'll cut off anyone who's thrice-accused of copyright infringement, but we should also permanently terminate Internet access for any corporation that makes three improper or incorrect accusations: once Sony or Warners or what-have-you make three bogus accusations, they have to do all their sales, marketing, production and communication by phone and fax. Forever. Ministers: why we changed the Copyright Act (Thanks, Mark!)

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  1. I’ve always thought that the right response to these types of things is to, once the law passes, to accuse those that passed the law.

    Since no proof is required, it is a simple matter to deprive them from their internet access. Why not? Will they be immune? Why should they be?

  2. Well, all you have to do is make some copyright infringement allegations at the people who supported the bill, at the companies who requested, etc. They’ve probably all done it.

  3. Since no proof is required, it is a simple matter to deprive them from their internet access. Why not? Will they be immune? Why should they be?

    To make a false accusation with intent to harm is slander/libel, and possibly perjury. Only the rich can get these cases prosecuted, so the rich are immune from this law.

  4. It would seem that the industry is fond of screamers, when buying their government representatives. I understand that our local minister for this portfolio, Jim Prentice, has a reputation as a screamer.

  5. Interesting. I wonder if an accusation from a from a foreigner counts. You know, someone who might be immune to prosecution for slander, libel, etc.?

  6. I’ve the vaguest of impressions that the minister in charge of the Internet might see things differently.

    Also FWIW Judith Tizard is the same person that recently started in train an explicit copyright exemption for satire and parody.

  7. [Quote]To make a false accusation with intent to harm is slander/libel, and possibly perjury. Only the rich can get these cases prosecuted, so the rich are immune from this law.[/Quote]

    But the accusation can be made and then apologized for. The law doesn’t call for there to be any follow up does it? What does the law actually call for to make the accusation stick?

    Accuse, apologize.

  8. Cory, I suspect Mark was exaggerating when he said she “yelled” at them, and that you’re exaggerating further when you say she “screamed” at them. There’s certainly absolutely no mention of raised voices of any kind in Colin’s report on the meeting: he says talks of “strongly expressed” anger, “strong views”, and “very strong language”, but that’s entirely appropriate and doesn’t suggest anything but passionate debate.

    And, while Judith is generally responsible for copyright issues in this government (and tabled the Copyright Amendment Bill – the same one admitted was “as good as it could be”), she’s not the “copyright minister”. There’s no such official portfolio. She’s the Associate Minister of Commerce (as well as the MP for my electorate – Auckland Central).

  9. I’ve the vaguest of impressions that the minister in charge of the Internet might see things differently.

    Uhh, well, David Cunliffe was at the meeting. And held the same position as Judith Tizard. So, no, unfortunately.

  10. For what it’s worth, my mum’s dealt with Judith Tizard before and can honestly verify that she’s completely batshit insane.

  11. Solution: Start an ISP, accuse Judith Tizard of copyright infringement three (3) times, and have her internet access at home and at her office cut off forever (∞).

  12. Seems to me it’s time to make three unsubstantiated claims of copyright infringement against Ms. Judith Tizard, so she can experience, first hand, what it is she’s proposing for everyone else, no?

  13. Might as well just have a law that allows people with insane amounts of money to click their heels together 3 times and get their way on anything.

  14. Might as well just have a law that allows people with insane amounts of money to click their heels together 3 times and get their way on anything.

    We have those, they’re called politicians.

  15. I’ve met this lady many times. She is as unreasonable at explaining herself as she sounds here. She doesn’t actually understand the arguments and she has no business affecting IT.

  16. Seems to me it’s time to make three unsubstantiated claims of copyright infringement against Ms. Judith Tizard, so she can experience, first hand, what it is she’s proposing for everyone else, no?

    I’m surprised nobody did that at the meeting… I mean, really, is it that difficult to have three people each stand up and say, “Minister, I accuse you of copyright infringement”?

  17. You people think too small. NZ’s population is <5 million. Why not send 3 notices to every single resident and force the whole country, by its own laws, off the internet?

  18. I have a variety of copyright material, if any NZ reader were to suggest the name of a politician who may have violated my copyright I’ll be happy to complain (I don’t think I will need to check I’m sure they would only tell me if they were sure) now if a couple of other people join me I suspect a few politicians would start to grasp what they are doing …

  19. The 3 strikes rule is fine if it is applied across the board. So, let’s see: three accusations of slander or libel, and you should have internet and media access cut off. Three accusations of complete ineptitude, and a politician should be asked to resign immediately (without the right of reply, of course). Only with such responses will these arrogant politicians be put in their place.

  20. Ha. I concur.
    The last thing we need in NZ is this type of madness. Law and freedoms aside, musicians here make money and lots of it, if they are switched on. A local hip hop label folded a year or so ago, citing ‘illegal downloading’ as a main reason for going bust; a quick search on the most used P2P network brought up no trace of any of the label’s recordings… bring on the evolution!

  21. Use creative commons, with the metatags. Due to the metatag they can be searched for… and filtered (or logged).

    If you don’t know about creative commons then it is time that governments did… and used it freely as a tool for digital freedom.

  22. Easily defeated. Just have three people make three different accusations of copyright infringement on the important players, starting with this bananahead. When she loses her internet access, she might see the light.

    People seem to forget that BIG CONTENT is not the only people to hold copyright. I can easily claim that she downloaded one of my original songs, original stories or perhaps a photo I took.

    I have copyrights as well, as, I assume, do the average New Zealander.

    Sooo, get some New Zealand buddies and start filing grievances. And if they don’t get their access terminated, sounds like you’ve got some sort of discrimination lawsuit, or further grist for protecting those that do.

  23. I need to start spoofing new zealand government IPs whenever I download torrents from now on… Might make someone see the light here.

  24. I propose a three strikes policy for corrupt politicians. Every accusation of corruption should take them out of office – 1 week for the first, 1 month for the second, the rest of the period for the 3.

    Of course the effect of the accusations should be immediatly, while the politician has of course the possibility to go to court against them and waiting some years till the court will decide. False accusations of course can not be taken as crime, they are simply errors that can happen.

    And if they do not like it, well it is not our problem. The people will have to do something against politicians corrupted by the entertainment industry, right?

    Ingo.

  25. >>To make a false accusation with intent to harm is slander/libel, and possibly perjury. Only the rich can get these cases prosecuted, so the rich are immune from this law.<< No, on several counts. :) In New Zealand law it is simply defamation. There is no separate thing as libel or slander, and intent has nothing to do with it. Intent would only come in at sentencing. There is also nothing stopping someone applying for civil aid to prosecute the case – defamation is actually one of the few areas where you stand a decent chance of getting aid in a civil case. And happily, NZ does not lack for lawyers with a soul that would be more than happy to take a civil aid case like this. It’s not perjury either: they’re making an accusation of criminal action in writing. They’re not supplying a sworn statement or making a declaration under the O&D Act (I assume!) and they’re not saying it while under oath in a court, so it’s not perjury. Defamation, sure, probably. And if they start flinging the accusation letters about willy-nilly they can probably be hit up for criminal nuisance/mischief too. Heck, if you wanted, you could probably even run an argument that they are “supplying a false document for pecuniary gain” which could land them in big trouble as that’s an offence under the Crimes Act, not just a pissy little civil offence. It would be exceptionally funny to see the industry start sending out the letters and the ISP’s responding by filing criminal complaints with the police for each and every one. Even more amusingly, the industry could be in more trouble because if they do face a defamation response, truth may not save them: truth is not always a defence against defamation in NZ law – even if they *did* correctly accuse someone they would still be open to the possibility of a defamation response and their getting it wrong far more often than they get it right would bolster the case for defamation even in an instance when they did have it right. (Granted, I can’t see many judges in NZ allowing that to proceed to judgement, but I can think of plenty that would allow it to go far enough so as to publically humiliate the companies for being arsewipes) This could get very entertaining.

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