Section 92A

I wasn’t even aware of this new section of the copyright law in New Zealand, Section 92a:

…[Section 92A] says that ISPs have to cut people off the Internet if a music company accuses them of copyright infringement. There’s no trial, no proof, and no accountability on the record companies to get it right. This provision was inserted into the Bill by the government after the Select Committee had told it to do the opposite and then passed by a large majority in the House.

Nick Johnston of Dynamo Go just did a write up of it I’ll repost here and there are some other links to further reading.

We wish to express our position in relation to the upcoming New Zealand copyright law changes & illegal downloading in general. Despite being in a band and with members in APRA, we disagree with their stance and we support Creative Freedom New Zealand and any other groups who see what this bill really is: an infrigment on the freedom of all internet users in New Zealand.

Even though most of us in the band are left-leaning politically, it is disappointing to see such a ridiculous law ammendment go through parliament thanks to Judith Tizzard and the Labour supporters of the bill.

It is not the fault of illegal downloads that CD sales are dropping. As a person who has participated many a time in downloading music, it allowed me to discover just about all of my favourite artists today, which has often meant I’ve gone and bought their CDs and records. I’m not trying to say that everyone does this active balance between legal and illegal music listening; there are many that abuse their power to download for free and don’t support the artists who made the music. Although this seems a contradiction, I do not believe that a downloaded album means one lost CD sale. It is a mistake for record companies to believe that someone will pay $22-30 if they lose the ability to download it for free. For passive music listeners, its more than often too expensive to justify purchasing, and the problem of price can be blamed solely on the record companies, not the retailers.

Its time for the record companies to realise they should not back an archaic business model, its time to grow up. Back 10+ years ago, record companies could focus all of their resources on 10 or so major releases in a year, and make fortunes off it. But nowadays, people are more clued up thanks to the internet. It has allowed all of us to discover bands we would have never heard of. Despite this, they are still trying to focus on selling huge quantities of a few big releases, when really they should be focusing on moderate sales quantities on many releases. This would allow a lot more local talent to get the attention it deserves, but instead the local divisions of the big four record companies (Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony Music and EMI) would rather just focus on one or two ‘major’ acts. You need no look further than the way Warner focuses on The Feelers for local sales, or Sony focusing on Elemeno P, or EMI with Op Shop. Were it not for companies like Border Music New Zealand, there would be virtually no local music available to buy legally.

Bringing this topic back into relevance with the issue at hand, I believe the issue is best summed up with this statement on the Creative Freedom NZ website: [Record companies / Movie distributors are fighting] progress by demanding changes to Copyright laws. In effect, they say, “lock down the Internet so our 1960s way of doing business can still work in 2010.” In doing so, they erode civil liberties and hold back the discovery of the new business models.

To quote one more critique of the law changes, I leave you with the thoughts of Nathan Torkington (

β€œWhen an individual fan wants our work enough to go through the hassle of finding a way to pirate it online, we see that as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to meet the fan, to connect them to the artist, and ultimately for the artist to be rewarded for their work. This opportunity will be squandered in the world of restrictions, distrust, and civil rights abuses that the middlemen companies want to institutionalise.”

Thank you for reading!


Another NZer not looking forward to February 28th.

For more reading: