Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Against guilt by accusation

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

Over the years I've taken a strong stand for legal due process on this blog. I've opposed the government's treatment of Ahmed Zaoui, its plans to seize assets from suspected (or even acquitted) criminals, and its plans for ASBOs, local body banishment orders, anti-domestic violence "police orders", and anti-boy-racer "cease and desist orders" for one simple reason: because I believe that people should not be punished without trial, and that when the government accuses you of something, you should be given a decent chance to defend yourself against that accusation. These are basic principles of a fair and just society, and recognised as such in our Bill of Rights Act.

So you can imagine what I think of the government's attempt to impose guilt by accusation on the people of New Zealand when it comes to copyright. This move violates those basic principles of justice and fairness, and it does so for the worst of reasons: because the copyright mafia have decided that it would be too expensive to even try to prove an allegation of breach of copyright. Instead, they want people cut off from the internet - and by extension, their friends, family, community, society, political system, and life - simply on accusation. And if they get it wrong? Tough shit.

This should not happen in a free society. We should not let it happen. Quite apart from the gross unfairness, the potential for abuse is enormous. Want to silence someone? Accuse them of copyright violation, and their ISP will be forced to take them down. The possibilities are endless...

As for what you can do about it, the Creative Freedom Foundation has a few suggestions here. And they promise not to kick you off the net if you pass it around...

[More on Public Address and Just Left]