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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 19th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2014 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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NZ, soon to be another state of the USA?

2 May 2011

On a number of occasions, I've voiced concern about the degree of influence US legislators and government departments appear to have in the drafting and implementation of NZ legislation.

My own experiences in respect to the low-cost cruise missile project were a very clear demonstration just how easy it is for the US administration to usurp the rights of NZers and how very willing an NZ government is to lick the boots of the USA when it is demanded of them.

If we think we are a sovereign nation in full control of our own laws and the enforcement thereof then we are incredibly naive.

And, for those who doubt this, I suggest you read the latest Wikileaks revelations in respect to the influence the USA has had on the drafting of our three-strikes copyright law.

It would appear that when the USA says "jump", our politicians simply ask "how high?" and then get to bounding around the place in ever higher arcs -- leaving their ethics, integrity and commonsense behind them and, each time they return to earth, they land fair and square on the rights of good honest Kiwis, pummeling them into dust.

Okay, so perhaps I overstate things, but I have plenty of reason to feel aggrieved by this "lackey" behaviour on the part of our governments.

Of course if you talk to the NZ government of the day, they'll tell you that it's important to make some concessions to the USA in order to secure that much-touted "Free Trade Agreement" (FTA) that's coming "real soon now", as it has been for decades.

The reality is that we don't need, nor should we want an FTA with the USA.

If you examine the experiences of other countries that have forged such a treaty, you'll find that it's very much all about what's best for the USA rather than what's best for the other party.

What's more, with China becoming the emerging superpower of the 21st century and the shonky state of the US economy, I really don't think it's worth selling our right to self-determination in order that it becomes easier for the USA to get *its* products into our markets -- while our farmers will still doubtless face hurdles and sanctions, even under the most liberal of FTAs.

There is absolutely no reason why the NZ consumer and voter should be forced to support the aging, antiquated and greatly outdated business model that the RIAA is trying to perpetuate by way of legislation. If the yanks want to force their own people to remain shackled by the best interests of their recording and movie industries then so be it -- but NZ should be leading the world (as they did with giving votes to women).

Given that we'll soon have access to a fancy, super-faced broadband network, why should we be hog-tied by an industry that still thinks it has a right to resell us the same old crap many times over?

Copyright, as a concept, is something that needs to be given a very big overhaul and I think perhaps that it's time we Kiwis got that ball rolling.

As I've said before, recording companies may have to wake up to the fact that they can no longer buy typewriters, wax cylinders, or cars with crank-handles. This is the 21st century and the concept of earning hundreds of millions of dollars for a few weeks work and a little marketing no longer has any validity. You can't legislate people into accepting outdated business models and the penalties that represents in terms of pricing and availability.

Perhaps Aardvark Daily and my RCModelReviews.com websites are a good indicator of where the future of copyright should be headed.

I don't charge anyone a single red-cent to access the intellectual property I create and publish on these websites. Sure, there are a few paltry Google Ads that nobody ever seems to click on but both sites return a *small* amount by way of "gifts" made by readers.

Yes, it barely pays for the coffee I drink while writing all this stuff -- but the reality is that if that's all people are willing to pay, then that's all it's worth! If I were to try and introduce a hefty subscription (or any subscription), chances are my total return on the hours I invest would fall significantly.

The bottom line is -- the market sets the hourly rate I earn and the value of the content -- and that's the way it ought to be.

So, why do the RIAA, MPAA and their NZ equivalents want copyright legislation made even more restricting and draconian? Because they realise that the true value of their product is far less than they're allowed to demand by law. They know that a huge number of people are not prepared to pay the asking price -- so they download the stuff illegally.

Now, what if they also operated on a "pay what it's worth" basis?

Yes, their overall revenues would probably fall significantly -- and that's because what they're selling is rarely worth the asking price.

How would Aardvark readers revamp the copyright laws and make them fairer to all concerned? Let's have your suggestions.

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