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US To New Zealand: We'll Help Write Your Copyright Laws, Pay For Copyright Crackdown

Posted by: , 15:46 AEST, Wed May 4, 2011

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Leaked Wikileaks cables show US heavily involved in influencing the copyright regime of New Zealand

Recent leaked 'Wikileaks' diplomatic cables have provided evidence of the US's role in pressuring other countries, including Canada, to adopt ever harsher copyright laws. And with New Zealand recently passing it own set of three-strikes like laws, many wondered if the US had a hand in it.

Wonder no more, as more leaked cables show the US not only pressuring the Kiwis to adopt tougher copyright laws, they even offered to pay for copyright crackdowns, and even help write the laws.

In two separate cables, the US in 2005 offered to pay for a new IP enforcement unit, that was to be run by major copyright holders in the region, namely the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). The cost of the operation, at over half a million New Zealand dollars (or $380,000 US dollars), was to be funded by the US.

Later cables revealed the same offer was made again and again, and not taken up by the New Zealand government, at which point the US even considered putting the country in their "bad guys" list, a list of countries that have copyright laws that does not meet the expectations of the United States. 

As for the recent law changes, there are diplomatic cables covering these events too. Back in 2008, the New Zealand government tried to sneak in 'three-strikes' law, but faced with a public backlash, the government abandoned those plans. It was then that a cable from the US embassy noted the need to get the government to go through with the proposed changes, even if it meant going against the wishes of the people (the solution, the cable suggests, is to have a shorter public consultation period, thus not allowing enough time for the full democratic process, and for opponents to potentially derail the process). The US also offered help with drafting any new legislations, based on the US DMCA.

Further cables also revealed a salient piece of advice from the US to New Zealand in regards to future copyright laws: don't have exceptions. The US urged New Zealand to not have the same kind of fair use laws currently existing in the US, as these "would send the wrong message to consumers" and "cost the industry in revenue and profits and discourage innovation".

Do you think it's right for the US government to interfere into the domestic politics of another sovereign nation, especially on behalf of the entertainment and copyright lobby? Post your opinion in this news article's comments section, or in this forum thread: 

For further reference:

2005 cables:

2009 cable:


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