Protests stall New Zealand copyright rule

Country's online community said new provision could force ISPs to block sites simply on the demand of a copyright holder.

In the wake of online and in-person protests over impending copyright legislation, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has announced a month's delay in the rules to give the industry time to come up with a workable alternative.

Known as Section 92A, the amendment to the country's Copyright Act aimed to strengthen the rights of copyright holders, but New Zealand's online community was angered at provisions that it said would force ISPs to block sites simply on the demand of a copyright holder.

The legislation, due to take effect at the end of February, was inherited from the former administration.

Key said Monday that the controversial clause of the copyright legislation would be delayed until March 27. "We are hoping that by that time, we will have come up with a voluntary code of practice," he said.

If no agreement is reached, Section 92A will be suspended.

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, director of the Creative Freedom Foundation, which formed in 2008 to fight the impending legislation, called the announcement a "step in the right direction."

Media commentator David Farrar of Kiwiblog said the legislation was wrong because it had been rejected by a parliamentary select committee and was reinserted at the last minute when people thought the matter had been resolved.

It was badly worded and there was a concern that due to high legal costs that a mere accusation from copyright holders would be enough to nudge ISPs to remove material, he said.

In separate media statements, industry bodies InternetNZ and the Telecom Users Association of NZ welcomed the move.

Darren Greenwood of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.



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