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Lobby group demands to know why copyright law review delayed until TPP talks complete

The FairDealNZ coalition is questioning the government's refusal to explain why a review of our copyright law is being delayed until after negotiations for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal are complete.

FairDealNZ coalition members include InternetNZ, Tuanz, Consumer and Trade Me.

"In an age when we’re being encouraged to connect with government and other resources entirely online it seems odd we would retain a law which allows for citizens to be disconnected from the internet," Tuanz CEO Paul Brislen tells NBR ONLINE.

"Our copyright laws were poorly thought out, poorly introduced and are hardly working at all, yet now we’re being told we can’t review them and worse, we can’t know why."

Papers released under the Official Information Act last week reveal that the government will delay the 2013 copyright law review until “TPP negotiations have concluded”. The reasons given for the delay have been removed from the public version of the document.

Copyright laws really need a big review in light of the changed information environment” says Susan Chalmers, spokesperson for FairDealNZ. “There is a lot of support for a review in New Zealand, which the Cabinet Paper itself acknowledges. All the same, the Minister says a review isn’t possible because of the TPP, for reasons that the public is unable to know about.“

New Zealand’s copyright laws were meant to be reviewed this year, five years after the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act in 2008. The government, has decided not to stick to this timetable, waiting instead to know what terms it may have to agree to under the TPP.

Previous attempts at updating the Copyright Act were rightly derided by the public as being out of touch with the changing needs of consumers. The only redeeming feature was a promise to review the legislation after five years. Now, however, we’re told that’s not going to happen,” says Sue Chetwin, Chief Executive of Consumer NZ.

Copyright laws currently don’t take into account the way New Zealanders interact with copyright material. A review of the entire market, including parallel importing and access to digital content needs to happen as soon as possible,” says Alastair Thompson, founder and general manager of Scoop.

The Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are taking place behind closed doors and not only are New Zealand citizens being shut out of the process, but New Zealand law makers are too. There is little known about what the cost to New Zealand of accepting more stringent copyright will be.

They haven't conducted studies on how Kiwis use copyright so their negotiations won't be informed by the practical copyright needs of New Zealanders. This negotiation is secret even by WIPO standards, and many documents won't be released until four years after the agreement is signed. This is unprecedented secrecy,” says Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, spokesperson for the Creative Freedom Foundation. “Effectively this is lawmaking without public involvement, and they haven't even undertaken a review of our nation’s copyright needs.”

Comments and questions
1

Because John Key is awaiting the court case for Mr Dotcom to see whether he can be extradited to the US. Once that out of the way, his problem is over. However, he's forgotten that there is an election next year and Mr Dotcom might have the last laugh when Key packs his suitcases to go back to Hawaii.