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InternetNZ says TPP's 'digital locks' will stifle innovation

27 Jul 16

InternetNZ has made its submission towards the TPP Amendment Bill, saying the legislation will make the country's copyright laws less fair and will stifle innovation.

Under the TPP agreement, New Zealand's copyright laws will change as all country member must share regulations on intellectual property issues.

"This legislation makes some use of the exceptions allowed in the TPP, but it can and should go much further. The TPP will make New Zealand's copyright laws less fair - but Parliament can amend this draft legislation to minimise the damage," says Jordan Carter, InternetNZ CEO.

InternetNZ is particularly concerned about 'technological protection measures' that will prevent New Zealanders accessing certain content. The company says that the internet is a vast place where technology is used in a wide range of ways, and with new ways still to be invented. Digital locks and protection measures could have a damaging effect on product usage.

InternetNZ says that overseas examples are filled with litigation threats. The threats go right down to the point where people must ask permission to repair a vehicle because its software is copyrighted.

The implications for New Zealanders include restrictions on both digital and physical content people have bought, and may stifle innovation.

"We are pleased that this Bill allows for exceptions to the newly restrictive rules, which go some way to restoring the fairer balance in today's copyright law that the TPP damages. However, we are concerned that the threat of lawsuits or criminal liability will stop people using content and technology in legitimate ways. This law may scare people away from innovating, which is not good for our creative industry or anyone else," Carter says.

The TPP is written with a rights balance in mind, that it suggests exceptions to copyright law so it doesn't unfairly stop innovation. However it also suggests extension of copyright terms. InternetNZ says this goes against the TPP's supposed balance of rights.

"It is vital for the most expansive possible set of exceptions to be put in place. Regardless of what happens with the TPP, InternetNZ supports a review of copyright law, to ensure our balance is fair and up to date," Carter says.

InternetNZ believes the contradictory balance should be addressed in the copyright review, and has addressed these issues in its submission. The company says it hopes the Select Committee will carefully consider its feedback.

"It is important that this law is finalised with careful consideration so that, as a country, we minimise the very real risks of unfairly restricting New Zealanders' access to content," Carter concludes.

Read InternetNZ's submission here

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