Wellington businessman Jack Yan is one of many netizens who oppose the provisions in a copyright amendment bill which had its second reading in the House under urgency last night.
Despite each one of his businesses relying on copyright protection, Mr Yan says the changes will harm economic growth in New Zealand.
‘Our economy is weak enough after the Christchurch earthquake and the terrible aftershocks, and we now have a bill that will weaken us more,’ he says.
He believes the bill, if passed, will hurt small- to medium-sized businesses in New Zealand.
‘Who is to say that an illegal download was caused by the computer’s owner? It could well have been caused by a computer half-way around the world illegally making use of a New Zealander’s connection,’ he says.
He foresees a rise in the hacking of connections by illegal downloaders, which would raise the cost of running a business.
‘While larger corporations have IT departments dedicated to dealing with these matters, the majority of Kiwi businesses do not—and they certainly do not need hacking, false allegations or disconnection looming over them.
He believes the changes are another example of the New Zealand Government tipping the scales against New Zealanders and New Zealand-owned businesses.
‘Foreign media companies have now been given the power by this government to accuse everyday New Zealanders of wrongdoing—and that presumption of guilt will now stick if the new law comes into effect,’ he says. ‘The “victory” here is ceding more of our sovereignty to corporations abroad.
‘An innocent New Zealander will not have the evidence needed to rebut a false accusation. She’ll need more than “I didn’t do it” under these new provisions’
Mr Yan, who has admitted that his firms regularly pursue copyright infringers outside New Zealand, says the new law goes further than what even the United States allows.
‘In the US, when we pursue an alleged infringer, there’s still a presumption of innocence in favour of the accused. And rightly so.
‘Thanks to National and Labour, an American company pursuing a New Zealander has far greater power than it does against one of its own,’ he says.
Mr Yan believes the status quo ante was a suitable enough means for copyright infringements to be pursued.
‘It preserved the accepted principle that a person is innocent till proved guilty, and ensured that a copyright owner has all its facts straight before making any accusation. It was a fair fight, but as of this morning, we might not have that any more,’ he says.
A Facebook poll currently puts those opposing the bill vastly ahead of those supporting it.