Guilt on accusation: how New Zealanders stopped an unfair copyright law

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

International media conglomerates trying to capture popular culture and to take away our right to internet access didn’t reckon on the power of individuals
standing up to be counted.

Now a new short documentary, Kiwiright, by Josh Davidow charts the course of the 2009 Internet Blackout that made news around the world and stopped a law in its tracks.

Kiwiright tells the story of the Internet Blackout, spearheaded by the Creative Freedom Foundation.

Hundreds of thousands of people protested against the controversial law change, Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment Act, that would allow copyright holders to seek disconnection of Internet users’ accounts simply on accusation of a breach of copyright law without a trial.

The campaign made waves worldwide and the uproar led to newly elected Prime Minister John Key suspending that section of the law. He described the law as “draconian” while noting that "If New Zealand was to sign a free-trade agreement with America for instance, we would need an equivalent of Section 92A".

Kiwiright takes a look at how New Zealand copyright law is dictated by foreign corporations, with a Free Trade Agreement carrot dangled in front of bureaucrats if they gave the rights holders the disconnection stick.

Davidow says: “The Internet is a civil right these days, no different to having
phone, TV and postal service. Yet, the draconian law would see people disconnected for being accused of accessing files that may or may not be under copyright.”

The documentary features interviews with politicians, artists and technologists,
explaining the deeper issues around the copyright controversy.

Kiwiright can be viewed on the web at

Quotes from Kiwiright:

Creative Freedom Foundation co-founder Bronwyn Holloway-Smith: “I was really concerned that the people pushing for this law were claiming to represent artists, but really they had other corporate interests in mind.”

Hon Peter Dunne, leader of United Future and Revenue Minister: “… I can certainly see that there would be people saying ‘better not do that, we don’t want go there, because we don’t want to upset the USA.’ Not because we’re timid little Kiwis but because our bigger objective is getting this free trade agreement.”

Tech journalist Juha Saarinen: “New Zealand is a testing ground for all these weird things...We’re giving a whole lot of power to the corporations that don’t have the public good as their interest.”

Public screenings of Kiwiright are planned for December, in Auckland and Wellington – please go to for dates, times and further details.
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