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Members of Internet NZ and the Creative Freedom Foundation tell New Zealand Commerce Select Committee that it Internet disconnection is “comparable to cutting off someone’s electricity, phone or postal system,” and that any financial damages the Bill imposes ought to be limited to amount of the retail purchase of the illegal downloads.New Zealand’s Commerce Select Committee is still taking public input on the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill that’s intended to replace the controversial Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment (New Technologies) Act that called for terminating the accounts of repeat file-sharers per a “three-strikes” graduated response system.Section 92A was scrapped last March after intense public outcry and the refusal of at least one ISP to participate. Since then it’s been working on a “replacement section.” Under the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill a court order is now required to disconnect repeat file-sharers, and they face temporary suspension of their Internet connections for up to 6mos and damages of up to $15,000 NZ ($10,700 USD) per each infringement. This past April it received near unanimous support in its first reading in Parliament.Testifying before the Commerce Select Committee earlier today, Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, co-founder of the Creative Freedom Foundation, a group founded in 2008 by NZ artists and technologists to ensure the rights of artists and the public aren’t undermined “in the name of protecting creativity,” said Internet disconnection is “comparable to cutting off someone’s electricity, phone or postal system.” It ought to be pointed out that Finland recently made Internet access a fundamental right, it’s Communication Minister Suvi Linden declaring that “Internet services are no longer just for entertainment.”Fellow CFF co-founder Colin Jackson said he felt that the Bill’s proposed penalties were too severe, and he and Jackson suggested that damages be pegged to the actual retail price of the illegally downloaded material. They said this would also perhaps encourage copyright holders to make more content available online. “Technology is moving on, ready or not, and content industries need to adapt accordingly,” said Jackson.In comments made yesterday she suggested the Bill’s definition of illegal file-sharing be limited to uploading content only so that you’re not breaking the law every time somebody sends you a file that you don’t have a chance to verify the copyright status of before you download it. “The internet is a great big copying machine and when you interact with it … you are constantly downloading content,” she says. “That definition should be restricted to … uploading so that you are not breaking the law when someone emails you something that is infringing [copyright], because you are a passive recipient of that.” She also finds it hard to believe that some copyright holders claim a lost sale from P2P for content they won’t even make available online.Copyright Council of NZ rep Anthony Healey told the committee that alternative business models couldn’t take shape until the problem of illegal file-sharing is under control, but one has to wonder if copyright holders till have an incentive to offer consumers more choices at lower prices. The only reason the music industry began offering digital music online in the first place was because Napster and illegal file-sharing forced its hand. Why does P2P still prevent copyright holders from coming up with alternative business models? Music fans are willing to pay it’s just a matter of offering them what they want when they want it, and at an affordable price. Does meeting these simple demands really require the govt threatening and disconnecting people from the Internet?