Internet blackoutJust watched on my ‘copy’ of the TV3 6 o’clock news the protest that took place in the grounds of Parliament today lunchtime.

Protesters were concerned about Section 92a of the Copyright Act. This section says if a user is accused of downloading material (such as video’s and music) that they don’t hold the rights to (in other words illegal downloads) then their ISP can cut off their internet connection.

Now, there is something to be said about ‘innocent until proven guilty’ – and in this case it seems that your privileges can be removed before you have been tried and found guilty.

But, I would say to the protesters, if you don’t want your connection cut then don’t illegally download music and videos that aren’t yours to download. Haven’t you seen the ads? Illegal downloading is stealing. Simple as that.

On the other hand, being punished before being found guilty doesn’t seem fair either.

In saying all of that – copyright laws in New Zealand need some serious work. As an ex-photographer the fact that a commissioner of a photographer owned the copyright before the image had even been taken riled me. As far as I know this section of the act has not been repealed, and we continue to lag behind the rest of the world in protecting the rights of those that make the work.

So, perhaps Section 92a is trying to right some of those wrongs. As Arthur Baysting from APRA pointed out on the TV3 item, incomes of performers and artists has reduced drastically from illegal downloading. But is Section 92a the best way to fix the problem?