Michael Geist writes in with new leaks relating to the New Zealand government's deep skepticism about US pressure to change its copyright law. The US wants New Zealand to add protection for "technical protection measures" (also called TPMs, DRM, or digital locks). This would follow the US law that makes it illegal to jailbreak an iPad, rip a DVD, or move your Kindle or Sony ebooks to competing devices (interestingly, the US copyright office just suspended the restriction on jailbreaking iPhones for three years, having concluded that the US law that's being pushed in NZ does more harm than good).
New Zealand is one of several countries currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a regional trade deal that the U.S. would like to see include a major chapter on intellectual property. A new leak of the New Zealand government's position on the IP chapter is revealing on several levels, most notably for its criticism of the WIPO Internet treaties and the attempts to limit existing flexibilities on digital locks.
NZ Govt Copyright Leak: Doubts Value of WIPO Internet Treaties, Supports Flexible Digital Lock Rules
There are several points worth emphasizing. First, NZ is clearly opposed to attempts to establish international norms on digital locks (ie. anti-circumvention legislation), arguing that countries should retain existing flexibilities on TPMs. Second, the NZ government recognizes the shortcomings of relying on digital lock rules, suggesting that the WIPO approach may actually undermine new business models. Third, it expresses doubt about the ability for digital lock rules to promote innovation. These are all positions that have been raised repeatedly within the Canadian context and serve to provide further evidence that support for the treaties is not nearly as widespread as its supporters claim.
In the age of Internet, discussions about the federal government and its functions are informed by and rely on our unprecedented access to federal documents. Anyone can freely view public records online, such as proposed Congressional legislation and presidential executive orders. Accessing public court documents, however, is a bit trickier. As Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2011, “no aspect of government remains more locked down than the secretive, hierarchical judicial branch.”
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