Today I was interviewed by a High school student (from my local community) who is doing an assignment on copyright. He’s 17 and studying IT and writing a chapter in a book to be produced by his school on what the future will be like. He asked me a whole lot of really insightful and probing questions on what Labour thinks is the way forward on copyright, the government’s rewrite of Section 92A and whether I agreed with terminating people’s internet accounts if they infringe copyright too many times.
When I said no I didn’t, he asked whether that was Labour policy. And no it’s not. Yet. But I have to acknowledge that that’s what I think.
I thought I’d write a separate post to my previous post Riding the wave (not sinking) on copyright. Some ideas because of all the amazing responses I’ve had and the sheer number of people reading it and talking to me separately. And today’s experience with the student (he’ll no doubt read this post himself) tells me this is such an important issue. Because how we handle it will tell us how we will handle the future. And we’d better get it right.
Unfortunately, I’m lacking confidence that the National Government grasps this, indicated by its haste to simply rewrite Section 92A.
Many people are concerned that there is not a wider public discussion being driven by this government (instead I hear they’d like to get “get copyright off their plate ASAP”) and that the rewrite is going to result in a drawn out longwinded process that won’t address the real issues.
And then there’s that pesky issue of whether to terminate or not to terminate!
I’m coming to the conclusion (my own at this stage) that termination isn’t going to achieve much. Financial penalties are likely to have more impact.
I’m also concerned we haven’t heard anything about further resourcing the Copyright Tribunal. Once Section 92A is enacted its likely there’ll be hundreds, if not thousands of infringement notices launched on NZ via the US.
There were a lot of responses about education. While I acknowledge there are education measures being put in place (some already in place) around copyright, a brochure and a website doesn’t constitute education nor does it necessarily lead to attitude change. It’s much bigger than that. Think about wearing seatbelts, applying sunscreen. Things we pretty much do automatically now. But those behaviour changes didn’t happen overnight. It takes a big effort, and a mixture of information, carrot and stick. Yes, government has an important role in driving this and showing leadership.
It’s pretty clear that current education measures aren’t working.
There are various figures bandied around about what percentage of people engage in peer to peer sharing on the internet, but it’s pretty damn high whatever figure you settle on. So getting people’s attention and then to change their behaviours will take more than a message at the beginning of a DVD.
I’m getting some interesting, and mostly positive responses to the concept of a levy on internet connection. The issue is how much, and what does it apply to? And how would it be divvied up? All valid questions and need more work.
The importance of the principle of enabling access to information and material, rather than just a policy that contains, prevents and punishes. Alongside that goes an enforcement regime for the repeat and insistent offenders.
There’s a real tension in the online community driven by the people who believe pretty much wholesale in open source and creative commons, i.e. everything belongs to everyone. Hmmm, I think not. But I think we have to do some more thinking and talking about this. Because the internet has opened up everything. And that’s a great and wondrous thing.
The urgent need for new and innovative business models by the creative communities (and their representatives).
The commitment to NZ content first. Mostly positive responses.
And then (on a separate post) that issue of whether the internet is an essential service. I’m sensing a strong public discussion beginning to build around this and you’ll be hearing more.
I could go on. And I’ll continue to write about it. And you’ll have more to say. I’m hoping we’ll be seeing a proper open access conference on copyright happening in the not too distant future. It’s about time all the parties got together and really started thrashing out some of these issues.
In the meantime, we (Labour) are committed to a new policy development process that has your input. Because to me, that‘s the future.