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Time to give 'three strikes' a Gallic shrug?

Just when you thought the dust had settled, controversy over the contentious "three strikes" Copyright Act has erupted again in New Zealand.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor on

Just when you thought the dust had settled, controversy over the contentious "three strikes" Copyright Act has erupted again in New Zealand.

Barely a month after the Act was passed, following two years of debate and argument, we now see global forces sticking their beaks in. This is on top of rows about how the law will actually be enforced.

New Zealand's Act is due to be implemented from September, but lawmakers are looking for alternatives to the "three strikes" disconnection rule, something opposed by many.

It has long been argued that Big Hollywood has been pulling the strings, and that evil corporate interests were behind moves to enforce copyright law, even if it meant the end of free Wi-Fi at cafes and libraries.

But now we have the United Nations stepping in, whose number three is of course New Zealand's former prime minister, Helen Clark.

A UN official has attacked the Copyright Act, declaring the internet a "human right" and an important way for people to "exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression". Yet the New Zealand government is sticking to its guns that the copyright legislation will stay as it is, and repeat offenders might have their internet cut off.

Perhaps because it was passed under urgency, the law seems to be in a bit of a pickle. The same can be said for politicians who have changed their minds, like Labour ICT spokeswoman Clare Curran, who — after backing the legislation — now proposes a complete review of New Zealand's copyright laws.

Fortunately, the risk to Wi-Fi operators now seems overblown, with the latest interpretations being that they may now be classed as ISPs, so that cafes and libraries won't be held responsible for any unlawful downloading.

All the same, it seems discontent over the Copyright Act will continue.

Now, being a helpful chap, I have come up with a solution to keep everyone happy, inspired by another major supra-national organisation.

It follows best practice from the European Union, an organisation noted for poking its nose into the "nooks and crannies" of life in all of its member countries.

Just because a law has been passed, it doesn't mean you must enforce it!

France has gained a notorious reputation for ignoring European diktats, and New Zealand could give a similar Gallic shrug.

By all means, keep the current law on the statute books, but there are plenty of other laws for our enforcement agencies to prioritise first. Indeed, New Zealanders often have their hands full following and enforcing the laws we have already!

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