Tuesday 10 August 2010

in New Zealand they what to tax the undetected, well the authors want it that way

I wrote recently of how public submissions had begun before the Commerce Select Committee in New Zealand, which is considering a Bill before Parliament that will strengthen the law on internet copyright protection. Today comes news of another submission this time from the Society of Authors and they want to tax ISP’s for any illegal content downloaded from the internet, a license on piracy if you like.

I actually like the concepts of this idea as I have explored similar thinking in a previous article that you can read here . I however think in this case it’s exactly like “wanting to have your cake and eat too” these guys want it all. They already have monopoly power over of the content, but now also want the ability to tax supposed infringement and to have 3 strikes and internet disconnection along with fines in the event that people still wont pay and so again they let greed get in the way of a good idea.

Their argument goes like this The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill does not compensate for the majority of illegal file sharing, sure it has penalties and disconnection but this wont make the infringers pay and what about all that illegal content that was not detected?  So therefore they have suggested that Internet users should be required to pay a licensing fee to access content online under a suggested amendment to a controversial copyright bill.

So although the bill, currently before the commerce select committee, requires internet service providers to issue up to three infringement notices to alleged offenders at the request of copyright holders and further then allows the Copyright Tribunal to hear complaints and award penalties of up to $15,000. Finally for the most egregious of repeat offenders it allows copyright owners to seek suspension of an internet account for up to six months through the district court. However at the end of the days it is all about the money and so in its submission to the committee the society have now requested that the Government should consider introducing a blanket licensing regime to ensure rights holders were compensated for all infringements, including all those undetected offences. I am a little dubious of a levy to compensate for the undetected, what’s next, a thought crime unit.

They have likened it to other schemes such as the licensing regime for photo copying, under which tertiary institutions such as universities pay a licence fee so they can photocopy texts. This in its self has always been a dubious tax and so it really is no surprise that they try legitimise a new tax by relying on an already established model abet a flawed one. The problems with this proposal is once again as we have come to expect from the content industries, it is all take and no give and offers consumers nothing additional and what's worse it assumes every internet users in New Zealand is stealing illegal content. I am all for licensing piracy however I see the need for a non commercial content user scheme that would be opt in. This would still allow for policing of illegal content use; however it would free up resources to catch the real commercial pirates that are profiting from misappropriation of others intellectual property and not users who only crime is accessing the content they like online, does not sound that bad when written like that.

I find it mildly amusing that as a content creator that I am only encouraged if others share my work, as it creates a larger audience for said work and at the end of the day that what it’s is all about. I believe that many content owners/creator wrongly assume that since the medium has changed and thus consumption of their intellectual property is now ubiquitous that the old way that guaranteed so much revenue in the past should still apply, however basic economics would dictate that infinite goods have a zero price and that a different approach is required. Demanding new laws and taxes to hold back progress is not the answer. The approach taken by Society of Authors has some merit, however as any additional burden that only seems to benefit industries that refuse to adopt it’s really just more of the same. Let’s hope this submission is rejected in New Zealand else I suspect It won’t belong till they lobby our respective governments for a similar tax.

What do you think? Leave a comment always welcome and very appreciated,

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