Digital IP Strategy Needs More User Input Less Govt.

Last week I spent a day at the inaugural Digital Development Forum meeting, along with about 150 plus other well-meaning representatives of stakeholder organisations from the New Zealand ICT sector. One of the messages to emerge out of this meeting was that a lot of people are concerned about where the new copyright legislation is heading.

Almost everyone agrees that we urgently need to address the existing law, because it is woefully inadequate given the rapid changes in technology that are occurring. In fact the whole issue of intellectual property protection is receiving attention globally for this very reason. The current system doesn’t really work that well anymore, given the rapid rate of ICT innovation.

But the chief complaint with the New Zealand legislative changes seems to be that there is an imposition upon ISPs to police Internet use and to deactivate recalcitrant abusers and that the government has not listened to industry concerns. That is ironic because Digital Development NZ projects itself as being the industry mouthpiece in the ear of a government that is committed to listening to the industry.

So in a (rare) demonstration of unity the industry has asked that implementation of the legislation be delayed pending further input. But since the amendment to the Copyright Act Bill was actually passed months ago, one has to wonder whether or not these concerns were raised when the legislation was at Select Committee stage over a year ago. Or was the ISP policing clause inserted discretely afterwards?

In any event, the copyright legislation (and the DDNZ Forum) are unlikely to have any affect at all on teenagers and other so called “digital natives” whose lifestyles revolve around ripping off and re-mashing creative content from a variety of sources. Last week’s forum meeting was an invitation only event dominated by middle-aged public servants and well paid industry lobbyists in nice suits and comfortable shoes.


e-Day Approaching

Perhaps the most useful outcome of my day at the forum was that I met Lawrence Zwimpfer, who is organising the nationwide e-Day event to be held on Saturday the 4th of October. e-Day is a great initiative that provides a free disposal and recycling service for owners of old or unused computer and cell phone gear. So there is no excuse for biffing all that obsolescent junk in the landfill.

They could really use some more volunteers to help out on the day in over 30 venues around New Zealand too! You can sign up here.

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