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Megaupload criminal copyright case is 'fundamental shift'

Michael Foreman | March 16, 2012
The legal, business and political implications of the Megaupload case were examined at a breakfast panel discussion held by the New Zealand Computer Society in Auckland recently.

"Teenagers very quickly adjusted," Kumar said.

The second type of reaction included businesses examining their risk management regarding the cloud.

In this sense the Megaupload case was "a strong example of what we should have already known," and reinforced the need to make backups. Other businesses were watching the case as they were "trying to get some clues as to what is good behaviour," Kumar said.

An example was the implication for 'safe harbour' provisions which prevented internet service providers from being liable to the actions of their customers.

Kumar said it was likely the case would impact on laws in the future. "Some people have said the case demonstrates that SOPA/PIPA type legislation is needed, while others say the opposite is true."

Jane Kelsey outlined the history of the Trans-Pacific Partnership from its origins as a trade agreement between Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, to a much more sweeping agreement which also involves the US, Singapore, Burma, Australia, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Peru and possibly Japan.

Kelsey said the TPP "goes further than any previous agreement has gone before," and aims to "set the gold standard for IP legislation."

She said New Zealand had become "the collateral damage" in "a bigger gameplan" that had been revealed by Hilary Clinton 'America's Pacific Century' speech to APEC in Honolulu last November.

"This is the economic limb of a policy that seeks to neutralise China," Kelsey said. "The other one is military."

Kelsey said the negotiations over IP were being conducted with an obsessive level of secrecy.

Details of the negotiations would not be released until four years after agreement has been signed, which she said effectively prevented officials from being held accountable.

What little was known about TPP had come out as a result of leaks around the ACTA negotiations, which Kelsey said provided "some idea of what was on the table". This included globalising existing US laws, extending copyright terms, the "current ask is 90 years," criminalising small scale copyright infringement, and establishing exclusive rights over imports of copyrighted material.

"Writing laws for the indefinite future behind closed doors is not an acceptable option," Kelsey said.

She predicted TPP would have a "chilling effect on regulation, locking in place a system that is almost impossible to change.

"I'm not suggesting that is bad or good, but I'd like to see what it is," Kelsey said.


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