In 2008 New Zealand politicians attempted to pass a three strikes law allowing users to be booted offline under accusations of copyright infringement. After massive outcry from the public and ISPs, Section 92A of the copyright law was suspended and promised a redraft. The suspension of Section 92A immediately grabbed the attention of the US government. A leaked cable from May 2009 shows the US government stressing the necessity of expedited development of copyright laws and offering NZ assistance in formulating them.
“Embassy will continue to stress with GNZ officials the need for a shorter rather than protracted timeline for the redraft and will ascertain the details of a notice and comment period for public submissions once released by GNZ. During this hiatus we’ve proposed holding DVC(s) between NZ and U.S. interlocutors to possibly help with drafting and as a public diplomacy tool to dispel public misperceptions about proper role of IPR protection.”
Beyond simply offering to write NZ’s copyright infringement laws the US government has been influencing copy protection in other ways in the region. The US government had previously paid approximately a half million NZ dollars for a program run by the RIANZ (Recording Industry Association New Zealand) encouraging individuals to report copyright infringers.
Another recent cable shows a double standard when it comes to fair use in the US vs. other regions. The US government objects to a format shifting provision in NZ’s copyright law, allowing other household members the right to copy a disk or other purchased work. However, a similar provision for fair use exists in US copyright law. It seems that US government has tighter standards abroad than at home and is exerting pressure on copyright reform to meet those standards.
It’s not thoroughly surprising that the US is bullying other countries into copyright infringement laws that meet and often exceed the tight standards of their own. It does beg the question, how far will this go? In how many countries has or will the US government attempt to exert influence in the arena of copyright infringement to protect it’s own entertainment industry.