Once touted for its radical and clever approach to life, liberal values and human rights, New Zealand has suddenly U-turned into the sort of backward nation it was in the 1970s.
The country has just voted in a three strike law to combat what the music and film industry has told them is a piracy crisis “caused by the internet”.
You would expect New Zealand politicians to a be a little more savvy. This is the country that once stood up to the United States on nuclear warships, and the French government on nuclear testing. The country has always been seen as a human rights champion.
But looking at the state of the P2P debate, it looks like the sheep, which New Zealand is famous for, have somehow got voting rights and are fielding their own political candidates in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Commerce Minister Simon Power bleated that online copyright infringement has been damaging for the creative industry, which has experienced significant declines in revenue as file sharing has become more prevalent.
He seems to have forgotten that since file-sharing and the internet came onto the scene, New Zealand has been making a killing from film and television thanks to Lord of the Rings and its ilk being filmed there. If the content industry is suffering then New Zealand is unaware of it.
Another one who was clearly fresh out of the sheep dip was New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young, who compared the internet to Skynet.
Young knew all about the internet and file-sharing by watching Terminator movies. He claimed that the law “brings order to the chaos that surrounds the globe.”
Now to a sheep, you can clearly solve problems like Libya, Iraq, starvation, having your third city flattened by an earthquake, simply by stopping people sharing files. More grass please.
While the rest of the world is calling the internet a basic human right, this bill is more draconian than most other three strikes laws which have been bought in across the world.
It turns an ISP into unpaid police who have to do what the movie and film industry tell them. If a studio says that someone is pirating, the ISPs have to believe them and send a warning notice to those customers telling them they may have infringed copyright.
After three strikes the copyright owner can take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal who can fine a $15,000 penalty on the internet account holder.
The Commerce Minister has threatened that if his law does not work in two years he will introduce a tougher regime which could lead to the suspension of accounts and filesharers carted off to the meat works where they will be hit with a nail gun, skinned and gutted and rendered down into something that a movie industry executive can put in their garden. We made the last bit up.
The new regime comes into force on 1 September. The law does not apply to mobile phone networks until 2013 for some reason.
Not surprisingly the news has been greeted by the non-sheep of New Zealand with horror and surprise. Many think it is their own fault for putting sheep into the Beehive (New Zealand’s parliament) in the first place. Others think that they would have had a better life if they had given fruit the vote instead. You would never get a Kiwi fruit voting against file sharing.