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Monday, 16 February 2009

Kiwi Comic Creators Join Copyright Protest

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

New Zealand comic creators have joined a nationwide protest this week (16-23 February) protesting against new copyright laws there, that could see anyone perceived as infringing copyright lose their internet connection -- including schools and libraries.

The Guilt Upon Accusation law 'Section 92A', which will class anyone who provides any form of services over the Internet is an ISP, calls for internet disconnection based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without any evidence held up to court scrutiny.

Despite mass protest, co-ordinated by the Creative Freedom Foundation, the law is due to come into effect on 28th February unless immediate action is taken by the governing National Party.

Under the new law, one of the most draconian pieces of copyright legislation anywhere -- and of a form that has already been rejected by the British government because it's fraught with problems and impossible to enforce fairly -- libraries, councils, schools, businesses, government offices could fall foul of its wording. If an internet user shares your Internet connection with friends, even they are probably an ISP too under the new act.

Thousands of New Zealanders are already blacking out their Facebook photo, websites, Myspace pages and Twitter account, in protest against this new law that may come into effect on 28 February.

The CFF argue the new copyright law, which could of course be implemented elsewhere, is now having the effect of limiting artists, restricting businesses, and harming public rights. "The Creative Freedom Foundation speaks for artists concerned at this trend and through Our Goals we seek to bring Copyright Law into the 21st Century.

"Artists do things with text that would be illegal if they did them with audio or video because copyright law hasn't kept pace with technology," the CFF argue. "Copyright law was designed in a time where consumers couldn't publish widely and they remixed only in text, a culture before people had access to video and audio editing computers.

"The harm of the existing scheme is that it criminalises many types of expression. People are already remixing video and audio to comment on elections, to make new music and video, and it's a worthy contribution. We should talk about ways to avoid criminalizing popular media, social commentary and potential businesses."

• If you're a New Zealand creator or want to show support for the campaign, just use this image (Right-click, Save-As) with the text:

(your name) is blacked out: Stand up against "Guilt Upon Accusation" for New Zealand http://creativefreedom.org.nz/blackout.html
• Instructions for Creative Freedom Blackout Campaign Details
• More background to the Act and the protest at: www.geekzone.co.nz/juha/6247

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