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Melissa Lee, you appear to be a pirate

On Wednesday night, Melissa Lee spoke out strongly in favour of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill, which passed into law Thursday morning.

 "Breaking a law, whether it is actually assault on a person or an assault on a copyright, should be punished, not actually excused," Ms Lee told parliament.

Opponents of the legislation were quick to point out a tweet by the National MP, not 24 hours before, in which she said she was listening to a "compilation a friend did for me of K Pop" (South Korean pop music).

Ms Lee shot back that all songs on the compilation had been legally downloaded, and paid for.

So it's all legal, right?

No so fast.

The key point is that her friend made the compilation, then gave a copy to Ms Lee.

Lowndes Jordon partner Rick Shera said it sounded unlikely that Ms Lee's K Pop compilation was covered by the new copyright law's format shifting exception.

Under the provision, music can be copied, but only for another member of the owner's household.

The second exception is if Ms Lee's friend received permission to distribute the tracks from the various record labels whose artists feature on the K-Pop compilation.

A key feature of the new law is that an accused person has to prove their innocence, putting the onus on Ms Lee to convince people that her compilation somehow falls within the bounds of the legislation.

But no warning letters or fine of up to $15,000 will be heading her way, for the offence occured before the new law was passed (it comes into effect September 1).

Lucky.

It occurs to NBR that if a law is so poorly understood, then it's not a good thing to rush it through parliament under urgency.

Ms Lee, who typically types more than 20 tweets a day, has now gone uncharacteristically silent on the social network, ignoring numerous questions about who paid for the now infamous K-Pop collection.

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions
52

It's totally illegal, her friend doesn't (well, likely doesn't) have a license/right to distribute that compilation, Not to mention doing a "compilation" is a "derivative work". (Which is also illegal if you haven't received permission from all the copyright holders involved)

Her friend may be a pirate, but Ms Lee has not copied and distributed any copyright material. A bit of sensationalist attack drivel - surely there is real news to report?

This is quite far from 'sensationalist attack drivel', as it actually points out the stupidity of a law rushed through under urgency.

sorry, I'm on the rag!

that is the same as saying "she did the drugs her friend gave her but that doesn't make her a drug dealer " which is true , still makes what she is doing illegal tho , and hey, she helped pass the stupid law and ignorance is not allowed as an excuse

If you go out with your friend and he kills someone while you are there, you are an accessory to murder, no?

far from sensationalist drivel. the number of comments is evidence enough that its a topical and relevant and intriguing article and drives home the fact that the people who passed the law have no idea what theyre doing.

I think you are mistaken. Because that's like saying 'I downloaded a file containing harry potter 8 but I'm not distributing it so I'm not liable'. this bill begs to differ. Down with the bill.

I think you are mistaken. Because that's like saying 'I downloaded a file containing harry potter 8 but I'm not distributing it so I'm not liable'. this bill begs to differ. Down with the bill.

Read the law.

Dumbass, she IS breaking the law by accepting A COPY OF SONGS.

Appreciably wonderful blog post, this kind of article is definitely all-encompassing and unique one too.
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Lee didnt say the songs were paid for by her friend, She didnt say who paid for them. She might have paid for them.

Are you the guy that writes the Tui billboards?

Though that also means that she never claimed that she paid for them either, simply that they were paid for.

While it's hardly likely that there'll be a mob with torches and pitchforks demanding Melissa Lee's head (although one can dream), this does highlight the sheer ignorance and hipocrasy with which members of parliament have advocated for this legislation.

That point that MPs have been singularly most successful in driving home this week is that New Zealand's lawmakers do not feel a moral or professional obligation to fully understand the subject matter on which they are legislating. At best they should all feel highly embarrassed.

It's still illegal to "receive" copyrighted material that you don't have a license to receive. Even if Melissa paid for the songs, she gave her friend copies of the songs (That's copyright infringement right there) who then made a derivative work (without a license!) and then distributed that back to her.

So the article and point is still valid.

"Even if Melissa paid for the songs, she gave her friend copies of the songs..."

Huh? Have you read the article?

Oh, I stand corrected. I must've misread it the first time through.
So her friend paid/legally downloaded the songs and then commited copyright infringement by giving a copy to Melissa.

It's still mild hypocrisy, but she doesn't deserve the label "pirate". That doesn't advance the debate in anyway and is just a personal attack. The issue of copyright piracy is just a large supertanker that is going to take a while to turn around. This bill is a positive step towards this.

When the new law comes into effect September 1, 2011, all "blue, red, green, black are other coloured party pirates" will be exposed....just be patient.

It would've been a better step if they'd included something about, if you can legally buy it in NZ, force you to go out and pay for whatever you've illegally downloaded.
If it's not legally available in NZ or online (in NZ, lots of places don't let you watch/buy stuff online if you're in NZ) then tough luck copyright holder, no fine/disconnection.

That would encourage publishers/distributers to make things available to New Zealanders to buy and still punished people for illegally downloading stuff they should go out and buy.

It is the hypocrisy that is the issue here. A politician stands up in parliament banging on about file sharing and how illegal it is ra ra ra but doesn't hesitate to do the exact thing she pontificates over. Anonymous and Ron Jeremie, dress it up however you like the fact is Lee accepted a pirated compilation of music. The medium isn't the issue - whether it is burnt to a CD, or distributed electronically - she "file shared" end of story.

The debate in the house prior to this law being passed by anyone that is remotely familiar with technology just goes to show how totally ignorant the majority of politicians are with regard to this issue. They are an embarrassment to NZ.

How do idiots like that get into Parliament

[The list - CK]

We vote them in, obviously. (Which says something about the people doing the voting)

Not totally correct Melissa Lee was on the party list.
Couldnt touch base as an electorial MP

NZ is run by major overseas corporates with this new law

As an NZ-born copyright scholar, I am taking a lot of flack over this here in chambers in London. I find myself at a loss to explain why the government would enact a ridiculous and unenforceable law such as this. The only answer I can come up with is: "Sorry, but the politicians are morons, and the voters not far behind."

Who stands to benefit from this travesty of legislation? Why, the oligopoly of massive multinational entertainment conglomerates which already control 90% of content and distribution in New Zealand, of course! They hardly need a helping hand... so why would the country's incompetent leaders be so keen on giving them a boost up?

Having discussed this with some of the world's top copyright minds, my advice to all and sundry is: simply ignore the law. Force the authorities to prosecute anyone and everyone, causing the law to fail for stupidity.

Once again, I am so glad I no longer live in New Zealand.

"I find myself at a loss to explain why the government would enact a ridiculous and unenforceable .."
I have to wonder (and I'm surprised that others haven't) whether this wasn't part of The Hobbit deal? Would seem an ideal opportunity for the US entertainment industry to have put the squeeze on NZ politicians.......

As an NZ-born copyright scholar, I am taking a lot of flack over this here in chambers in London. I find myself at a loss to explain why the government would enact a ridiculous and unenforceable law such as this. The only answer I can come up with is: "Sorry, but the politicians are morons, and the voters not far behind."

Who stands to benefit from this travesty of legislation? Why, the oligopoly of massive multinational entertainment conglomerates which already control 90% of content and distribution in New Zealand, of course! They hardly need a helping hand... so why would the country's incompetent leaders be so keen on giving them a boost up?

Having discussed this with some of the world's top copyright minds, my advice to all and sundry is: simply ignore the law. Force the authorities to prosecute anyone and everyone, causing the law to fail for stupidity.

Once again, I am so glad I no longer live in New Zealand.

Okay, I'll take your advice! Will you bail me out if I get into trouble? :)

bill songs

From both her speech and her tweets you can see she doesn't understand file sharing, copyright or legal issues like which side of the law she's on.

It's simple - her "friend" has copied the music, format shifted it, given it to her to listen to. That's a crime.

Whether she commited it or her "friend" did is irrelevent - she doesn't seem to realise it's a crime despite being very hard nosed about copyright law in her speech.

If the politicians don't understand the law they're drafting, how on earth can they expect the public to obey it and the police to enforce it?

Fact of matter is Ms Lee is a liability & me thinks JK & the Nats need to drop her so far down the list she doesn't get back in. She maybe sincere / nice / whatever but this isn't the 1st time she's been shown up to be a bit out of her depth. & she ain't the only one in the building in same position. Randomly tweetering? (why the hell anyone would be interested in your bedtime music beats me) is not something a sensible person in her position would/should do I'd think.

@ anonymous. The new law will make (sending) uploading and receiving (downloading) infringing material a breach. Ignorance of the fact that it is infringing or even knowledge that material is being sent does not matter.

I'd agree anoymous about the use of the word "pirate" (or "theft" or Skynet for that matter) if it were not for the fact that rightsholders are so fond of labelling private non-commercial use as piracy. Then, in the US (and here if we subscribe to TPPA) suing for hundreds of thousands of dollars for a few songs.

Oh she's now claiming that her friend paid for the music and legally downloaded it is she, funny, in her immediate tweet on being caught out she tries to claim her friend was the composer of said K-Pop compilation she was given. Seems her story has shifted once she realised the big holes in that one. So she's a hypocrite and a liar.

@D36, she hasn't changed her story or lied. She said her friend was the composer (of the compilation assumedly). For all we know there is no restraint on the distribution of this K-Pop music. It's all speculation and accusation.

Far better to debate a fair copyright bill than to make this about personal politics. This issue has been around long before Ms Lee's K-Pop compilation.

If I were to legally download a number of single songs, copy them to a CD, delete the copies on my computer then give the CD to you, would I be a criminal?

Regarding the "if a law is so poorly understood, then it's not a good thing to rush it through parliament".

The laws relevant to Melissa Lee receiving a copy of her friend's music are not what was passed under urgency here. They are existing copyright laws regarding personal/fair use.

Why is this muppet still in Parliament! Just a disgrace

This is an embarassment to NZ...the tech world sniggers...exactly which university gave this woman a masters in communication?

NZ is such an amusing little country!

Fail. Its not piracy, its sharing. And I was taught that sharing is good.

its more along the lines of "she accepted a stolen car. knowing it was stolen". accepting pirated material is an offence as well. not as bad as the actual pirating or "stealing" but receiving stolen goods is still a conviction

hypocrite

Hope she will *censored by nazis in NZ parliament*

LOL so glad she didn't end up as our local MP ~ that woman's a train wreck!

Referencing the speech American musician Amanda Palmer gave in Wellington recently where she referred to what was one of the turning points for her. The big label she was signed with had decided not to allow legal distribution of her music to Oz & NZ (& presumably other places) but when AFP was touring in Oz a few years ago, afterwards, as she was signing autographs, she had, not 1 or 2 but many people try to give her money because they had downloaded her music off torrent & loved it. She Adopted a policy of, if you are generous with your fans they'll be generous with you, forced the big label to drop her & now self produces her music, she sells her CD's downloadable for a minimum donation of 69c/CD +/- which covers all her costs (staff equipment, recording & post production) with the philosophy "Pay me what you think it's worth" many download for the 69c so she loses nothing & gains a happy fan & free wom advertising, but most pay enough for her to make a good living and she is adored & respected by her fans. People pay for her music because they don't feel ripped off by the big 'middle-man' companies. She is NOT alone. This law & others like it are the dying gasp of an outdated industry and it is speeding their death as people, including the artists themselves, despise their greed even more. The politicians are nothing more than puppets, ignorant of the realities of the industry, as well as of the internet itself.

...whoops sorry didn't mean to anonymise that last comment in response to Pelirrojo

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