Not JUST Guilt By Accusation

no_s92a The Blackout has been a fantastic success, garnering the attention of the government, and resulting in a delay in implementation for the famed Section 92(a).

The focus of the campaign to date has (quite rightly) been on the Guilt Upon Accusation aspect of the law. This aspect is easy to explain, and also piques the interest of non-technical audiences and the press.

But to my mind, the more egregious aspect of the law is that it assumes that your internet connection is used solely for the purpose of downloading illegal copies of audio and video files. This is wrong. In most cases that pipe also happens to carry a large part of one?s day-to-day communications. It might also carry your work, your livelihood, and some of your basic human rights.

We already have adequate laws to punish those who intentionally duplicate copyrighted works, just as we have laws to punish many other civil crimes. This makes sense: punish the offence, and set that punishment at a level that deters reoffending, or others from offending in the first place. Don?t require the removal of a basic utility upon accusation. The nearest equivalent I can think of is vehicle confiscation. In that case, the law requires a proven offence and a court-order, and also has a requirement that the court consider undue hardship before applying the confiscation.

Additionally, if the internet disconnection provision made any sense, why are there not provisions throughout the Copyright Act for removal of other tools of infringement? I would expect to see the confiscation of electronic devices carrying unauthorised copies, and perhaps a provision to require a local council to shut down a theatre should they infringe copyright multiple times.

This issue of an overzealous punishment is not solved by any delays in implementation of the law, and will not be solved by the implementation of a Code of Practise. The answer is really quite simple:

Section 92a must be repealed.

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3 Comments

  1. I concur. Section 92A is also open for corporate abuses and does not lay out legal procedures to punish the accuser nor compensate the accused, if the infringement case is proven wrong.

  2. Excellent post, Ben! I confess that in the past I have been known to put copyrighted music on my answerphone messages; clearly I should be banned from owning a phone. Photocopy machines should be removed from libraries if patrons use them to copy material from books. And last but not least – I think it’s time to seriously address the problem of getting a (copyrighted) song “stuck in my head.” This outrageous form of theft could be solved by surgically removing the memory centre of the brain, so that repeat offending is adequately punished.

    After all, the future of the entertainment industry is at stake!

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