TelstraClear chief Allan Freeth has lashed out at the New Zealand government over its new anti-piracy laws, which he said sold Kiwis out to an antiquated content industry.
“TelstraClear respects copyright, but we respect the ever-changing needs of our customers too. At present, they are being denied the freedom to choose by companies intent on propping-up old world business models,” said Freeth Monday.
“Rather than investing in innovative ways to legally provide people with the content they want, whether music or movies, pictures or programmes, these companies choose to pressure governments into legislating.”
Freeth’s comments add an important voice to opponents of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011, passed in April, which carried penalties of up to NZ$15,000 for account holders that received three copyright breach notifications.
Although enforcement would only occur after 1st September, notifications could relate to any infringing activity that had occurred in the 21 days prior.
Anonymous Kiwis staged a protest an hour after the law was officially introduced, claiming to have downloaded copyrighted material through a ‘Government ISP’.
Officials denied the allegation but it has sparked speculation that educational institutions could be forced to cut off internet access to avoid penalties.
Under the new law, New Zealand's Copyright Tribunal could impose the maximum fine on account holders - as opposed to file-sharers - after action was taken by a rights holder.
Besides forcing parents to monitor their children's internet use more carefully, the new law would achieve little else, according to Freeth, because it failed to address the main reason why people download copyright infringing material.
“The problem is that much of what Kiwis want simply isn’t available to buy here,” he said.
“We know, because in 2009 we ran an online survey of more than 1000 Kiwis to find out why they download copyrighted content. They told us they’re tired of paying too much, and waiting too long.
“They view the packaging and distribution of physical copies of music, movies and games as unnecessary and costly, and claim the business model is outdated and out-of-touch.”
Retaining old price structures for content delivered over the internet did not work either, and undermined the benefits that online access offered to far-away New Zealand.
“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," said Freeth.
“Instead, it has chosen to introduce a law that could turn ordinary Kiwis into law-breakers.”