THE NEW FACE OF PUBLIC POLICY: Anti-S92 "black-out" protesters lobby the government. Don't knock it; it worked.
Score one for the black-out brigade: The government is to delay implementation of the controversial Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment (New Technologies Act) due to come into force February 28.
Prime Minister John Key announced at a post-cabinet press conference this afternoon that implementation of the controversial clause of the copyright legislation is to be delayed until March 27.
“We are hoping that by that time we will have come up with a voluntary code of practice,” Mr Key said.
If no agreement is reached, Section 92A will be suspended.
On January 21, a spokesman for Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson's office told NBR that "a last minute stall won't happen". The minister wanted to see how the act would work in practice before considering any tweaks.
However, it appears Mr Finlayson's boss had his ear on the Creative Freedom Foundation's high-volume "blackout" campaign - which will now go down in history as the first viral internet campaign to stop - or at least delay - a law.
Battle won, war not over
InternetNZ Executive Director Keith Davidson praised the delay in a statement, saying "New Zealanders can breathe a sigh of relief that their internet access is no longer under threat due to unproven allegations of copyright infringement."
However, Mr Davidson cautions that - from the anti-S92 campaigners' point-of-view, the fight is far from over. While the deferral is welcome, InternetNZ would rather see S92 repealed altogether rather than finessed with a voluntary code of practice.
The Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand, representing around 500 corporate telco customers, was also quick to praise Mr Key's climb-down:
“Tuanz members, and especially large network owners, applaud the government for deferring the controversial Section 92a of the Copyright Act,.” said Chief Executive Ernie Newman in a statement.
“At a time when businesses of all shapes and sizes are struggling to cope, this delay will give some breathing space.
“We remain committed to working in good faith with the Telecommunications Carriers Forum, rights holder representatives and other interests to find a solution that will be workable and fair to all. We thank, and congratulate the government, and Parliament as a whole, for listening and acting on the concerns expressed.”
While NBR was one of the first publications to round on the act as a poor piece of legislation (including here and earlier last year), it has also criticised the black-out lobby, whose campaign has seen Facebook and Twitter photos - and today, whole websites - blacked out as twisting the the debate beyond the factual.
But, hey, whatever works.