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Copyright law 'will not and cannot work'

15 Aug 2011

The CEO of a major ISP has added his two cents to the debate surrounding the new copyright law, saying rights holders should be looking at new delivery models rather than scrambling to protect the old ones.  

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill is due to become law on September 1, and will allow rights holders to request action from ISPs where they, the rights holders, suspect illegal downloading is occurring.

Alan Freeth, chief executive of TelstraClear, says in an open letter that although he respects and supports the ability of rights holders to protect their intellectual property, ‘a business model that needs to be propped up by specific legislation in this way is flawed and needs to change’.

"The problem is that much of what kiwis want simply isn’t available to buy here,” Freeth says.

"New Zealand’s distance from the source of much content has been conquered by online access, but simply making it available online while retaining old price structures and wait times doesn’t work.”

Freeth says in 2009 his company performed a survey of more than 1000 kiwis to find out why they downloaded copyrighted content, with three main themes emerging.

"Respondents suggested building a stronger direct connection between the artist and end user to reduce the old-world overheads and online purchase price.

"A try-before-you-buy mechanism was also proposed. For example, tier access with free low-res video and music and pay access for high-quality versions.

"Finally, they said, change the scope of the copyright laws and focus on those who seek to make a profit from the illegal copying and on-selling of content.

"Instead of bringing in a law that we believe will not and cannot work, our government should be breaking monopolies, allowing personal choice and letting New Zealanders experience information and entertainment when the rest of the world does.

"Instead, it has chosen to introduce a law that could turn ordinary kiwis into law-breakers.”

Go here for a business perspective on the copyright law, or here for the latest from advocacy group InternetNZ.