To the Honourable Rodney Hide
Re: URGENT Copyright Act Section 92
I bring your attention to the Copyright Act that as of February 28 2009 will introduce significant compliance costs on small businesses in New Zealand.
The new legislation effectively turns a business into an ISP and makes management for that business responsible for implementing measures to ensure that employees cannot download copyrighted material. There are two key issues here for me:
1. This introduces a new compliance cost on small business. Each small business will need to modify their firewall settings to block as many IP ports as practicable especially those ports used by file sharing software. In many firewalls, these are not blocked by default for out-going connections from within the business network. This means that each business will need to adjust the firewall for each Internet connection within their business (e.g. one for each office – in my case three). In my case this will mean flights and other travel costs associated with complying with this poorly drafted Labour legislation as well as time developing policy and process. At the same time, blocking these ports is not necessarily desirable for all businesses as they have real and legal uses, such as downloading large Linux distributions – a perfectly legitimate use of peer-to-peer file sharing technology, and one that I often use in my business. In addition, it may require further tightening of the policies of users computers to ensure that they don’t install software that is capable of breaching copyright via file-sharing – once again this increases compliance costs associated with ensuring that our business does not fall foul of the new and poorly worded law.
2. The current structure of Section 92 and the Telecommunications Carrier Forum Code of Practice is heavily geared towards large media companies. As a small part-time photographer that is making a little money selling microstock photography overseas, it is not necessarily practical for me to register and pay the registration fee associated with filing a copyright complaint under Section 92. This means that the legislation is only going to provide tools to large international copyright holders, and provide little protection for small individual copyright holders such as myself.
I am also concerned that our business Internet connection could be taken down based on accusation alone – and not after the rigour of the judicial process.
As both an MP for ACT that stands up against compliance costs for small businesses, and the Associate Minister for Commerce, I urge you to ensure that Section 92 in its current form does not go live on February 28, and that it is reviewed and wider copyright holder and Internet user stakeholder consultation is held to ensure that a fair and reasonable Copyright Act is enacted.
Update 2009-02-20: And a brief reply from ACT.
ACT opposes this amendment of the Copyright Act.
It is our hope that the National Government will review the law, and strike out this clause.
ACT Parliamentary Office Manager
Office of Hon Rodney Hide
Ph 04 817 6630