Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

TEDxEQChCh 2012

Posted in New Zealand on September 1st, 2012 by Matt Taylor – Be the first to comment

 

TEDxEQChCh 2012 volunteers

 

TEDxEQChCh was streaming live all day here.

Exploration

Rakihia Tau – Mihi

Highly Flammable – Performers

Highly Flammable

Roger Sutton – Opening remarks

Tom Hooper - CEO, Canterbury Development Corporation

The Kiwi mantra of ‘give it a go’ is far more valuable than we give it credit. Christchurch might not be attractive to the risk-adverse at the moment, but that’s alright. The job right now is to attract and retain young people, and make sure that talented young people are going to want to come here.

Vibeke Linde-Strandby – Architect

“Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes and even strategy.” – Tim Brown

Arlanda Stad is a business park concept with a soul.

“This is the first time I’ve tried to explain architectural concepts without slides.”

 John Hunter – Recorded TED talk

Watch the talk here.

John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4′x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages schoolkids, and why the complex lessons it teaches — spontaneous, and always surprising — go further than classroom lectures can.

John was put in charge of a gifted education programme. His first question was “What do I do?” the response was “What do you want to do?”.

The answer was the World Peace Game that features the UN, arms dealers, saboteurs and weather goddesses.

John admits to his students “I don’t know the answers.”

The documentary film John talks about is showing at the Hollywood Cinema in Christchurch, details will be up on the TEDxEQChCh website.

Jamie Fitzgerald – Adventurer, presenter on First Crossings

“For 42 hours we did not move anywhere.”

“So we haven’t moved anywhere and we’re winning the race.”

Sometimes when you think you’re making the least progress you’re actually making the most.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” - Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland

Experiential learning.

They asked what are the insights from other people’s success that we can apply tomorrow?

Celebrating milestones

We only ever focussed on that next milestone and we celebrated it.

“Why do I push my boundaries? If I let an opportunity pass I might be letting myself down.”

Ryan Reynolds - Chief Evangelist, Life In Vacant Spaces

We live in a culture of permits.

Anything a bit out of the ordinary is forbidden unless we get special permission.

We internalize this and close ourselves off.

There is a brief time in adolescence where we act as if anything is allowed unless strictly specified as forbidden.

Approach any rule asking what does it allow?

The Book Exchange Fridge Gapfiller project: people asked “Who’s going to be locking the fridge every night?”

A permanent solution might have been too daunting.

If people will not try things without permission, you have to make it easy to get a permit, Life in Vacant Spaces deals with barriers.

It’s easy to try something when it’s temporary.

What if you could try out an idea for free for 30 days?

Festival of Transitional Architecture.

“We’re totally unresourced and in over our heads, but everyone should get in over their heads right now.”

The caption of one of the projects featured in Ryan’s slides: “Needs funding – let’s talk :)”

The opposite of a permit is an invitation.

We want to foster a creative culture of creators and doers.

Inspiration

Kiel Johnson – Artist

A good idea only comes when working on a bad idea.

Lots of slides with awesome projects Kiel has worked on.

Made a printing press: “I am the press, I have the power.”

Made a survival vest for an emergency “I’m living in Los Angeles so when we fall into the ocean…”

“Get started on whatever you do… and good things will happen.”

“I do outreach… which is basically making more people like me.”

Two words: robot party.

Jane Henley – CEO, World Building Council

Green in a generation.

What we’ve created now is a set of disconnects and it’s difficult to realize visions in this environment.

“I wonder how long their drive to work is everyday.” Jane on a photo of a suburban cul-de-sac.

Market uptake is increasing in speed with each new technology.

We use labels to understand the plethora of information available to us. Performance ratings – energy, water, fuel efficiency ratings on appliances and vehicles.

Growing vegetables, community involvement, walking, closeness to family – valuable things from the past that need to be brought back.

Consumption to co-sumption

Good ideas: walking school bus, AirBNB – renting a room in your house out, carpooling (10 weddings have happened because of connections made through carpooling.com).

Community collaboration
Say a neighbourhood wants green energy – these community collaborators think up a solution.

We can look at Skype and the NZ Insulation Programme and see values becoming easier to achieve and becoming more important – connecting with friends overseas, having a warm home…

“When I was at school working together was called cheating.”

Twitter @worldgbc.

Donald Sadoway – Recorded TED talk

Watch the talk here.

What’s the key to using alternative energy, like solar and wind? Storage — so we can have power on tap even when the sun’s not out and the wind’s not blowing. In this accessible, inspiring talk, Donald Sadoway takes to the blackboard to show us the future of large-scale batteries that store renewable energy. As he says: “We need to think about the problem differently. We need to think big. We need to think cheap.”

Making a liquid battery to solve the strain on power sources.

“If you want to make something dirt cheap, make it out of dirt.”

“One of the greatest benefits of being a professor? Coloured chalk.”

“David’s young, smart, and wants a PhD.”

Abbas Nazari – Student, Former Afghan Refugee

Don’t think I could do his talk justice. Watch the video when it’s posted.

Wil McLellan – Founder, EPIC

Disruptive collaboration, the journey of getting EPIC built.

“Not feeling super positive.” – Wil on the day after the earthquake.

“We we got no money, we got no land, we got no property development experience.” But that didn’t hold them back.

“You’re pretty good at art… cough Lord Of The Rings” Wil to one of the most creative businesses in New Zealand, WETA.

Challenge convention, think outside the box.

Activation

Jed, Hera with Happiness Stan – Music

Jade Temepara – Founder, Hand Over A Hundy

Think about food differently.

Food has changed through generations ending up with things with no nutritional value.

A few days after the February quake there was no food in a supermarket near Jade and there wasn’t going to be for a week. “What am I going to do to make sure I have enough to sustain my own family” if food wasn’t available anywhere for a period of time?

Start a food revolution.

Hand Over A Hundy gifts $100 to families to start a vegetable garden.

Handing down skills and knowledge through generations – most of the mentors assigned to families are older people.

Do you have your own food system? Are you passing down valuable skills to your kids?
Are you teaching your children where real food comes from?

Pam Warhurst – Recorded TED talk

Watch the talk here.

What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.

Propaganda gardening.

“We did not write a report, we did not ask for permission.”

Food is a common language.

“And we’ve done it all without a flipping strategy document.”

“I’ve seen the power of small actions and it’s awesome.”

“And for some reason I can’t comprehend it’s surrounded by prickly plants.”

“And there’s some people who don’t know what a vegetable looks like if it’s not in plastic with a label.”

“If you eat, you’re in.”

Ernesto Sirolli – Founder, Sirolli Institute

“We paid them to come… and sometimes they showed up.”

“Instead of asking ‘why aren’t you growing anything?’ we just said ‘thank God we’re here’.”

“If people don’t want to be helped, leave them alone.” It’s about respect.

“Let me tell you a secret. There is a problem with community meetings. Entrepreneurs don’t come.”

“How do you do that?” “I do something very, very difficult. I shut up.”

Entrepreneurs want confidentiality, dedication and for you to realize that a successful business needs:

A fantastic product, marketing and financial management.

None of the successful companies started with one. Study Richard Branson’s book – the first two pages. He doesn’t mention I. He says We 32 times.

George Parker – Actor

George talked about a performance he was involved in about the Canterbury earthquakes.

“We were used to working in unconventional spaces.”

Joshua Iosefo – Poet

An amazing live performance on invisible borders and being brown.

Aspiration

Ian Taylor – Managing Director, Animation Research Ltd

Ian wowed everyone with his animations.

“While everything was turning to crap here, people of that calibre were thinking about you.” Ian on getting help from big companies for his earthquake auction.

“Don’t see why not” attitude gets his staff around the world.

“Something special happened in Christchurch, grasp it.”

Sam Johnson – Founder, Student Volunteer Army

When we’re young we’re taught to value money, time, skills. Contribution is more important.

“Do you have any skills?” – A business to Sam after he asked how he could help after the earthquake.

“Why humans exist is to interact with each other.”

“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. Pick a general direction and implement like hell.”*

The Concert

The only way to get there is by doing four hours of volunteer work.

Bryan Stevenson – Recorded TED Talk

Watch the talk here.

In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America’s unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.

“There is power in identity.”

1/3 young black men in USA are in jail, prison, on probation or parole.

34% of black male population in Alabama have lost the right to vote permanently.

Rich and guilty are treated better than poor and innocent.

The death penalty question is really: “do we deserve to kill?”

1/9 on death row are innocent. In aviation we would never let an airline fly if one plane out of nine went down.

11 times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim is white opposed to black.

22 times more likely to get the death penalty if the defendant is black opposed to white.

Germany would never institute the death penalty – it would be impossible with their history to endorse the systematic killing of its citizens. But in the USA it’s fine to kill more black people than white on death row.

“That’s going to make you tired, tired, tired… that’s why you gotta be brave, brave, brave.” To Bryan on his justice initiatives.

The opposite of poverty is justice.

Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.

Alexandros Washburn – Urban Designer

“When you meet one kiwi, you meet 100.”

On seeing one of the towers on fire on 9/11: “And we were interested in this from a technical standpoint as architects because no one had died in a high-rise building that had sprinklers.” He thought that the plane close by was some sort of firefighting plane. It wasn’t.

9/11 was the first day of school for a lot of students (something I’d never heard before).

So many similarities to Christchurch: cellphones and most landlines weren’t working immediately afterwards, portable toilets, military stationed around the city, a no go zone, a mayoral election.

Improve the quality of public life by improving the quality of public space.

Urban planning

The smallest units matter.

If it’s worth remembering, it’s worth drawing.

How do you judge an effective public space? By the perspective of a pedestrian.

Alexandros drew an awesome diagram of a street with dimensions.

When you’re walking down the street, something should catch your attention every 10m.

Sewer catch basins can’t be moved when placed – it’s too expensive.

The fire department want specific things in specific places.

The Highline

“We had to think clearly, when there was high emotion.” After 9/11.

You have to hope for something greater tomorrow and you have to accept the fear that generates.

My hope for Christchurch video

Created by Becca MacGeorge.

Time’s up.

Fin.

Great day. Watch the talks when they get posted on the interwebs.

Conditions Of Entry – Pak’nSave

Posted in Law, New Zealand on March 18th, 2012 by Matt Taylor – 4 Comments

A new sign seems to have popped up between the self-checkouts at a specific Pak’nSave (note that this is after you’ve entered the store, in fact just before you’re going to leave):Pak'nSave condition of entry

It would be a shame if they had to do this because people were challenging their self-given right to unreasonably search customers.

OIA Adventures: NZ School Formals and Homophobia

Posted in Law, New Zealand on February 12th, 2012 by Matt Taylor – 98 Comments

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Just to clarify, there are other responses, they’re just not included in this post. These are the ones that I thought were interesting, for one reason or another, and are more based around transparency and the Official Information Act process than same-sex dates and after parties.

 

Does anyone remember St Patrick’s College in Wellington? Last year in June a story broke about how a male student, who happened to be gay, wasn’t allowed to bring a male friend (and ex-student) to his school ball/formal. The school said it was a management issue if they allowed ex-students or boys from other schools to attend school events.

Gay pride Tel-Aviv

Official Information Act

Idiot/Savant suggested sending an Official Information Act request to each state and integrated secondary school (private/independent schools aren’t covered under the OIA) asking whether they had a policy on same-sex dates would reveal how widespread this was.

I think I was either sick, or school was closed because of some natural event one day, so that’s what I did. I also included a question about events before and after the ball/formal.

I used the TKI schools database and Google Docs, and sent the request to schools that have year 12/13 students to the email address listed as their contact address.

The OIA technically applies to Board of Trustees, but as principals should be on the BOT, and know about what I was asking, I didn’t mind them replying.

Here’s the email:

Subject: Official Information Act Request – School Ball/Formal

Dear Sir/Madam at [school],

If you hold a school ball or formal could you please answer the following questions? Do you have a policy on same-sex dates? If so, could you please email me a copy of that policy?

In the past, has the school banned same-sex dates from attending the school ball or formal? If so, could you please provide details?

Do you have a policy on parties before/after the school ball or formal? If so, could you please email me a copy of that policy?

This email address is listed as the contact address for this school. If this email has found you in error, please let me know. http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/o/official-information-your-right-to-know/publication/.

Thank you in advance.

Yours faithfully

Matt Taylor

I sent a reminder email to schools that hadn’t replied around the middle of the 20 day response period. Some people didn’t like the part about complaining to the Ombudsmen (which you’ll see below).

Subject: Official Information Act Request – School Ball/Formal Follow-up

Dear Sir/Madam at [school],

I sent you an Official Information Act request on June 15th regarding school balls/formals. Under the Official Information Act, requests must be answered within 20 working days. I have not received a response from you to date. If I don’t receive a reply within 20 working days I can complain to the Ombudsmen. The Ministry of Justice explains the Official Information Act here: http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/o/official-information-your-right-to-know/publication/. For your reference my request is below.

If you hold a school ball or formal could you please answer the following questions?

Do you have a policy on same-sex dates? If so, could you please email me a copy of that policy? In the past, has the school banned same-sex dates from attending the school ball or formal? If so, could you please provide details?

Do you have a policy on parties before/after the school ball or formal? If so, could you please email me a copy of that policy?

Thank you in advance.

Yours faithfully

Matt Taylor

Over the next few weeks I’ll post some lessons learned and the responses I received back from the schools. Many of the requests/schools are before the Ombudsmen (like Idiot/Savant predicted, schools have minimal experience with the OIA [see below]). I’ll post the result of those when I get them.

John Holley from Liston College: “Firstly an apology on the delay beyond the 20 days for you OIA request. This is the first formal OIA request the school has had to deal with in a long time (if ever) so the staff were unsure how to deal with it.” [response to questions was below this]

Below are some interesting responses from some schools.

Spam

Some schools reported not receiving my original email. This might have been because of spam filters. Organizations need to occasionally flick through their spam folders for non-spam content.

Who are you??///???@@@!

Some schools were angry that I didn’t say who I was working for (no one), and exactly why I wanted the information (for the internets). They’re accountable to the people, and their policies and decisions should be transparent. Their response shouldn’t change depending on who is asking for the information and what they want it for (and the OIA doesn’t require people to disclose reasons for requesting information).

In most cases I replied back saying that it was for a blog post, that they weren’t the only school I was asking and that I don’t work for the media. I don’t think it was inappropriate to hold back information (basically hold the data hostage) before I responded to their questions, or complied with some extra request (like sending them a letter, sending them ID, phoning them etc.), which some schools did. I think this could be interpreted as their fear of the media. Some schools asked for more information about me and responded to the questions in the same email, which was fine.

Some of the schools below did eventually respond to the questions.

Steve Saville from Alfriston College: “Could you please identify yourself/organisation and explain why you are gathering information.”

Penny Mossman from Amuri Area School: “I/we have not received any previous email from your organisation. I do not like the threatening tone of your email [the second one, with the bit about the Ombudsman) and I will not respond to requests from any organisation that has not made itself personally known to us or one that we have no idea who they are.”

Tanya Phillips from Aranui High School: “Can you supply some information for us on this please;

What organisation do you represent?
What is this information being used for?
Where will this information be published?

As soon as we get that information, I will be more than happy to answer your questions.”

‘Admin’ from Baradene College: “Please send your formal request to our Board Chair:  Mr Edmund Lawler, Chairman of the Baradene Board of Trustees, c/o Baradene College, Private Bag 28906, Remuera, Auckland, 1541.  This will need to be on an official letterhead making your request explicit.”

Mason Stretch from Cromwell College: “Please provide our Board with some background to your request.”

Allan Vester from Edgewater College: “I am not sure about the Official Information Act request? Is this actually an official request or was the header there to get my attention.

I would be happy to answer your questions if I had some understanding of why you want the information?

Just one point on policies. There seems to be some idea that schools have policies for everything “Policy on Student parking” Policy on Towing Away Student Cars” etc.

The actual policies that schools must have as prescribed by the Education Act is actually quite small eg a Policy on Protected Disclosure is a requirement.

I think what you will find is that when people talk about policies they are actually talking about the commonly accepted procedures that the school applies in certain situations? [This is a very good point, I should have probably included procedures and practices in the wording of the emails]

If it is the school ball you are interested in then we will have procedures/ rules about which students or other persons are able to attend the ball, the time they must be at the Ball by, the standard of behaviour required etc but there is no policy on those.”

Murray Burton from Elim Christian College: “In accordance with section 9 (2) (k) of the Official information Act, we respectfully decline your request due to the following.

We at this stage have no information regarding the following:

Who is asking for the information, who they represent, their background etc…
For what purpose is this information requested
What part of society is represented
On what basis do you think your request is covered by the Act

Due to all these unknowns we regretfully feel that your request is of a nature that was not intended as part of the Purpose of this Act. “”

My reply:

“Thanks for your reply. I’ve identified myself as Matt Taylor and I’m not representing an organization.

The Official Information Act doesn’t require me to provide background or extra details on why I’m requesting the information.

I’m not sure what you mean by the society question.

The Official Information Act actually applies to your Board of Trustees, so if you’re not comfortable answering the questions please forward this request to your board’s chair.”

Murray: “As a full member of the Board of Trustees I am happy and authorized to work with you concerning your requests.

I would still like to know the following:

Please outline specifically why you wish to receive this information?
What will it be used for?”

My reply: “The Official Information Act doesn’t require me to provide background or extra details on why I’m requesting the information.”

Murray: “Please do not think that we are being uncooperative. We realise we need to comply with the law but we are also wise and discerning concerning our school and the release of information hence email process we are following with you is exactly on that basis.

I am more than happy to release your requested information when I am in receipt of your answers to the following questions

Please outline specifically why you wish to receive this information?
What will it be used for?”

[I didn't provide the requested information and the request is currently before the Ombudsman.]

Donna Thian from Ellesmere College: “Before I pass this on for reply please identify who you are and why this is being asked of us.”

Jude Conway from Gisborne Girls’ High School: “I acknowledge receipt of your email requesting clarification of Gisborne Girls’ High School’s policy and procedure in respect of same-sex dates at school formals and parties associated with school formals. School management would be agreeable to answer your enquiries, however we ask if you would first advise the reason for your enquiry and the purpose for which you require the information.”

Roger File from Golden Bay High School: “I would be more than happy to provide that information, without an OIA request, but would like to know what you intend doing with it?”

Sandy Begg from Green Bay High School: “If you wish to have a conversation with me, please contact me on 817 8173 ex 216. I have no idea who your organisation is or who you are.”

Graham Robinson from Hamilton Boys’ High School: “Who do you represent and what is your interest? Are you a former student?” [I thought the former student question was interesting.]

Bruce Hart from Heretaunga College: “Our process around the ball is not a secret and I am quite happy to supply you the information you need.  I didn’t respond as I thought your approach lacked common courtesy. All you need do is introduce yourself properly and ask for the information and I would be more than happy to oblige.”

Ron Ballantyne from Hurunui College: [after asking for a copy of the original email] “It might also be nice to know who you are and why you want this information??”

Rosey Mabin from Inglewood High School: “Thank you for both your emails. I do not provide information to people I don’t know. Neither of your emails tells me who you are and for what purpose you require the information. Perhaps you might be courteous to provide that detail.”

My response: “This is for a personal blog post.”

Rosey: “1.      Perhaps I could use the same Act to get you to disclose more information about yourself? You seem particularly cagey in being transparent about your request, yet expect that in return from the respondents.
2.      It is polite to give some background information when requesting information from strangers. You might like to consider doing so in future.
3.      The job of principals is to lead teaching and learning in their schools. Responding to your sort of request is not an effective use of our time.” [response to questions was below this]

Nadia Rose from James Hargest College: “Please send your request to the school in a hard copy with a physical address and we will respond in hard copy to your physical address.”

My response: “Under the Official Information Act, requests aren’t required to be in written/hard copy form. Is there any particular reason why you’d like the request as a hard copy?”

Nadia: [response to questions]

Harold Leask from John Paul II High School: “I do not share such information with unidentified personal. You have provided no information about yourself or your organisation but I’m happy to discuss this issue with the ombudsman.”

Katherine-Mary Molloy from Kaikorai Valley College: “Who are you and under what authority do you ask for this information.”

Debby Peebles from Kaitaia Abundant Life School: “My Principal would like you to send you  request in writing, on letterhead, with the official organisation that you  belong too.”

Tracy O’Brien from Kavanagh College:  “As a matter of policy  the College does not respond to this type of official request via email.  If you could please land mail your request to The Board Chair, Kavanagh College, 340 Rattray St, PO Box 737, Dunedin 9054 this matter will be responded to as soon as possible.  As a matter of courtesy the Board would expect you to identify yourself or the organisation you represent and your interest in this matter.  As N.Z school policies are a matter of public record I do not expect any difficulty in this information being released to you as soon as practicable.”

Kaye Saywell from Makoura College: “The Principal has requested that you please advise who you are and why you want this information.

How did you send your original request – was it by email or post?  I receive the emails addressed to the College office and open the mail addressed to the Principal and have no record of receiving your original request.”

Dee Whitby from Michael Park School: “We are surprised at the tone of your communication and respectfully point out that your initial request does not request the information as per the Official Information Act [the OIA was mentioned in the subject line, and requests for information should be considered under the OIA whether it is mentioned or not. Regardless, the email should have been replied to mentioning the OIA or not] and it is not yet 20 working days. We frequently receive requests for information and given the busy environment of school life we endeavour to respond as soon as we are able.   We also appreciate receiving more information from the sender.” [response to questions was below this]

John Russell from Naenae College: “Please identify yourself and your purposes”

Barbara Hewitt from Napier Girls’ High School: “Our Principal has requested me to find out who the information is for.”

Jenny Ellis from New Plymouth Girls’ High School: “I am happy to consider responding to your request on receipt of a letter from you that provides details of your business, where you can be contacted and how you intend using the information provided. Our school address is: Private Bag 2049, New Plymouth”

Carolyn Matthews from Otahuhu College: “Your enquiry needs to be in writing and addressed to the Principal.  Please allow 20 working days for a response.”

Grant from Paeroa College: “Who are you and why do you want this information?”

Marie Gordon from Palmerston North Girls’ High School: “I am sorry but I have no idea who you are or who you represent.  Any request for information such as this can be done so in writing with suitable identification.” [Does she want a scan of my driver licence? I'm not sure.]

My response: “[what the information is for]

The Official Information Act doesn’t require requests to be in writing, so this email request should be fine. Additionally, there is no requirement for identification to be provided with requests.”

Marie: “I am well aware of the OIA….thank you. I am not in the habit of responding to random e-mails….however, as the answers are quite simple…” [response to questions was below this]

David Matthews from Papakura High School: “I am not willing to provide you with the information you have requested without some more information from you. Who are you? What will the information be used for?”

Vaughan Couillault from Papatoetoe High School: “Feel free to give me a call.”

Wayne Wright from Reefton Area School: “Put the request in writing, sign it and post it. We do not deal with official information through electronic networks. Our physical address is 10 Victory Street Reefton 7830”

My response: “Under the Official Information Act, requests aren’t required to be in written/hard copy form. The information requested shouldn’t contain any sensitive information that could be compromised by being sent over email.”

[what the information is for]

Wayne: [response to questions] ‘I don’t know why you choose to use the “Official Information Act” line. I know some schools are pretty guarded about their activities, however in our case we are very busy people trying to make good things happen for our students. If something is not going to directly affect our kids, we don’t usually do it. As for having things in writing. Your electronic signature doesn’t cut the mustard for us [I didn't send in a physical signature, so I guess it did], that’s our choice and that is highly appropriate for our setting.’

David Ormandy from Rodney College: “I am more than happy to answer your questions but could you please give me some information about yourself and the purpose of your request.”

Jai Kreyl from Rotorua Girls’ High School: “It is not clear from your email who you represent.  Please provide more information before I forward your e-mail.”

Helen Fouhy from Sacred Heart College (Napier): “Before I answer any questions I would like to know who a little about you including who you represent, what invested interest you have and what will happen to any information you gather.

Answering emails from an unexplained source is not usually something I would do.”

And Shona Warrington from Sacred Heart College (Napier): “If you would like to pursue this any further, please phone Helen Fouhy to make an appointment to see her to discuss this further.”

Rose Sawaya from Sacred Heart Girls’ College (N Plymouth): “I was not impressed by the follow up version with the threat of the Ombudsman.  Nowhere in your correspondence have you explained who you are or what you want the information for.  If you are going to impose threats of this nature you should at least explain yourself.”

‘Southland Girls High School’ from Southland Girls’ High School: “With regard to your request below, we would politely point out that threats are not ever appreciated [underlining theirs], certainly when a courteous reminder would more than likely extract the same information.”

and

Deb Hay from Southland Girls High School: “The principal would like to know the reason for your request, and in what capacity you are asking?”

Mandy Page from St Catherines College (Kilbirnie): “Could you please send a paper copy of your request to

Jane Holloway
Principal
St Catherine’s College
POBox 14076
Kilbirnie
Wellington

Please enclose an address for reply mail”

My response: “Under the Official Information Act, requests aren’t required to be in written/hard copy form. Is there any particular reason why you’d like me to mail the request?

Mandy: “Yes I would like it in writing please, just to make it a formal request. That way we have your signature on the letter in case the BOT want to see any correspondence”

My response: “The Act accepts emailed requests as valid formal requests.”

Mandy: “Yes and it also states that requests are best made in writing and I am requesting this by written letter rather than email. Thank you.

  • Requests are best made in writing, but you can ask for the information in person or by telephone too; and
  • Keep a note of when, how and who you made your request to (and keep a copy of any requests made in writing).”

[The Department of Justice, where the above was quoted from, says requests are best made in writing likely so the information being requested is clear, not because they want people to cut down trees and sign in pen.]

Neal Swindells from St John’s College (Hastings): “I am not prepared to give out information unless I know who I am giving it to. I require a hard copy letter on the letterhead of the organisation who is asking for this information.”

Erik Pedersen (via Val) from St Matthew’s Collegiate (Masterton): “Suggest you ring. 06 370 1731
I will respond”

Philip Keenan from Stratford High School: “I have acouple of queries:
Why do you want this information and who are you?”

Gina Mason from Taihape Area School: “Could you please let me know who you are, who you are working for and the purpose for your questions.”

Hayley Hodson from Tamatea High School: “I sent you a reply the same day that I received your information request [I never received it, quote below suggests it might not have been sent to me] and asked that you please explain where you are from (what company/business) and for what purpose you are gathering this information.”

From: Nicola Ngarewa [principal]
Sent: Tuesday, 28 June 2011 3:02 p.m.
To: Hayley Hodson
Subject: RE: Official Information Act Request – School Ball/Formal Follow-up

Kia ora ra,

 

I was unsure as the purpose and intent of this email and mistakingly deleted it.

Answers as requested below

Alan Jay Mokoro Gillett from Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha: “I am a little reluctant to respond to this email – I am not too sure who you are?  Are you from the Ministry of Education?  I am ready to send this information to the Hamilton branch to follow up. You do not have any contact details – and this could be a hoax email.  So I would prefer that you send me an explanation of who you are, and a phone number, so that I can discuss this issue with you, cordially.”

Hinematua Gillett [same person?]: “Thank you for sending me details regarding your process, but I am not sure whether you are an appropriate person for me to communicate with.  My school is a Kura Aho Matua Wharekura, why should I provide you with information regarding our policies?  I have not been instructed by the Council to do this.  Please explain why I should provide you with these details, otherwise I will not be able to.”

‘Office’ from TKKM o Ngati Kahungunu Ki Heretaunga: “KO WAI KOE ???” [Another school replied to the whole request in Māori, which wasn't helpful.]

Chris England from Tongariro School: “However so I can provide you with information that more fully answers your needs, could you please give me a little bit of background as to why you require the information, and how it is to be used?”

Kristine Mclachlan from Waimate High School: “Before I answer any questions on behalf of my school I would like you to know that we have not recieved any Official Information Request. We do not respond to threats made and I would like more information about why these questions are being asked. Who are you representing and what do you need the information for?”

Alison Gernhoefer from Westlake Girls’ High School: “I have no difficulty with the information that you require, but I would like to know your credentials and what organisation you represent please.”

Debra Ronke from Woodford House: “We did not reply to your email as you did not introduce yourself or indicate in any way why you wanted the information.  I assumed that the email was spam and deleted it.  I certainly do not reply to random emails without more information. We would be happy to assist you with your information; however, it would be appropriate if you could explain who you are and what organisation you are from.  You are welcome to call me on the number listed below”

Gatekeepers

Correspondence between administration staff and senior management was occasionally forwarded on to me with replies. This correspondence often showed a lack of understanding around the Official Information Act. Here’s an example from Aurora College:

From: Annette Little
Sent: Thursday, 16 June 2011 12:41 p.m.
To: Robyn Hickman
Subject: FW: Official Information Act Request – School Ball/Formal

 

Not sure about this one Robyn – delete if you want to.

Annette

Costs

St Patrick’s College (Silverstream), [correction: not the St Patrick's that started this], was the only school that requested costs to process the request. Because of the simple nature of the request, no other school asking for costs and their unwillingness to break down the costs for me it seems like they are trying to be difficult and hope that I will lose interest in the request, instead of asking for money because processing the request will cost them money.

Chrissy Fage from St Patrick’s College (Silverstream): “Their is an administration charge of $25 for the secreterial work required in answering this request. On receipt of this cheque, made payable to St Patrick’s College Board of Trustees we will respond to your request.”

Some schools liked making stuff up about the OIA

Denis Slowley from Bayfield High School: “Please note all Official Information Act Requests must be in writing [email is fine] quoting the date of the Act [the Act doesn't need to be mentioned at all], the purpose of your request [reasons aren't required] and the specific policies by name [questions are fine]. Such requests cannot be in the form of a fishing question as this one is [see below]” [response to questions was below this]

The Ombudsman explains “fishing expeditions” (pdf) (mirror):

“The fact that a request is for a large amount of information does not of itself mean that the request lacks due particularity. The term “fishing expedition” appears to have received general recognition in the vocabulary of those concerned with making decisions on requests for information. It should be clearly understood that this term is not recognised in the Act as a withholding reason. If the information requested meets the test of due particularity it cannot be refused simply on the basis that it is considered to be a fishing expedition. The request must be given proper consideration under the Act.”

Tim O’Connor from Palmerston North Boys’ High School: “If you want information from anyone I suggest you write specific requests rather than generic ones that are sent out randomly hoping for responses.  You are welcome to complain the Ombudsman and I welcome a response as there are protocols around OIA requests [send in a question?] and you didn’t meet them in your initial e mail.  I can’t say I find your approach amiable or holding any pertinance.” [response to questions was below this]

Copyright

David Olivier from St Peter’s College (Palmerston North): “A Reminder about the Procedure remaining the intellectual property of the College and not for reproduction for purposes other than laid out under the Official Information Act.”

This is an interesting statement.

Considering anyone could request the same document from St Peter’s College, I’m going to link to it here (pdf).

Who are you working for??//@@

Terehia Channings from Turakina Māori Girls’ College: “Firstly, please be informed that we have never at any time received an e-mail from you regarding school balls/formals etc…If you insist that you have, then please forward a copy of that e-mail that you sent. All e-mail that are sent to the office e-mail address are received by my PA and she does not recall receiving any such material. Upon receipt of a copy of your e-mail supposedly sent on the 15th June, I will then respond to your Official Information Act Request.”

From: TMGC Office [mailto:office [at] tmgc.school.nz]
Sent: Tuesday, 28 June 2011 4:31 p.m.
To: Terehia
Subject: FW: Official Information Act Request – School Ball/Formal Follow-up

 

This is the first time I have seen this email??

My response: “Thanks for your reply. The message was possibly intercepted by a spam filter on your end. I could send you a screenshot of the mail merge screen where it says that it sent okay, but that could of course be forged, you seem suspicious of whether I sent the original email. It seems a moot point to debate whether you received the email or not.”

Terehia: “Of course I am going to challenge your e-mail to us as a school due to the fact that you state that you have not received a response from us from your first e-mail, which we did not receive. Secondly, you point out that you can complain to the Ombudsmen if I don’t reply within twenty working days to this e-mail. Please refrain from insinuating that we do not fulfil our legal obligations as a school or myself, as a Principal. I do not appreciate such a demand [replying to three questions!!] being placed on us as school when we did not receive your e-mail on the 15th June. As you know, emails sent can be tracked. We have not found anything that has come from you on the 15th June. Your response to my e-mail would have been acceptable had you just concluded by ending your comments with the mail merge screen declaring that the message was sent. To continue by accusing me of being suspicious [the word supposedly was mentioned] and making the comment of a “moot point to debate” I find offensive. Please send me details of your Manager or Manageress as I would like to take this further. We will respond to the Official Information Act Request at our earliest convenience. I am aware of the timeframe.”

My response: “This is for a personal blog post, I’m not working under a manager.”

Terehia: “Please explain then why we are obligated as a school to complete the survey for a personal blog post. Please forward the documentation that clearly states our obligation as a school.”

My response: “Because of the Official Information Act.”

Terehia: “Please send me the contact details of another person, preferably in a Management position, that I can speak to with regards to your e-mails and the Official Information Act. I just find your approach and manner somewhat rude and disrespectful. I do not believe that you will be the only person collating this information from schools in the country and surely there is a person, a committee or a cluster that you are responsible to.”

My response: “Please forward my request to your Board of Trustee’s chair as the Act applies to the Board.”

Terehia: “That’s fine, I can do that however; I would still like to speak to someone that also collates this information from schools. A person in Management will be great.”

My response: “It really is just me.”

Terehia: “There is no-one that you are responsible to?”

My response: “No”

Terehia: “Indeed!”

I get banned from emailing a school

Jenny Gellen from Waitara High School: “In future, please don’t conact me regarding such matters”

I replied with “Sorry?”, but never got a response from Jenny.

Being difficult/a dick

Rob Sturch from Hastings Boys’ High school: [I thought this deserved a screenshot]

Hastings Boys' High School OIA reply

Alan Liddle from Te Puke High School: “Thank you for your enquiry.  Our policies are available to the public on our website www.tepuke.school.nz” [response to same-sex question below]

My response: “Thanks for your reply. What is your policy on after/before ball parties?”

Alan: “As mentioned in my previous email our policies are on our website.  Help yourself.”

My response: “I searched the site for ball policy, with no results.”

Alan: “Well done and therefore your conclusion will be…

Sent from my iPhone”

Do not question Wellington High School!!@@

Dominic Killalea from Wellington High School: “I have been forwarded your email requesting information from us. I find your tone aggressive and rude. I’m not sure if that’s how you want to appear. By my reckoning, this is the 9th working day since your request.” [response to questions was below this] and

Two days later, Prue Kelly from Wellington High School: “[response to questions]

Why don’t you research something that is educationally significant”

My response: ‘The Human Rights Commission receives “a number of complaints every year about pupils not being allowed to bring same-sex partners to school balls.”

You might not think something that is effectively homophobia is a very important issue, but I do.’

Prue: “If you knew anything about us you would know that we began the schools out programme”

One day later, Cathy Drummond forwarded Prue’s response to me again.

WORD YOUR QUESTION BETTER!!@@

Rod Harris from Christian Renewal School: “The reason why I did not respond is that we do not have a school ball.

Your request is that If  [bolding, italicizing, underlining his] you hold a school ball or formal, could you please answer the following questions? The implication is clear that I only needed to respond if we held a school ball. [The question was worded poorly, but I think most organizations reply to emails to confirm they received them, unless they're purposely ignoring them.]

To have an expectation for me to respond (as the threat of complaint to the ombudsman) makes the assumption that we do hold a ball. Because as a teaching Principal, I have little time for administration, and having the proliferation of e-mails that come into my e-mail from all different types of sources, I do not respond to e-mails unless I have to.

Next time could you please ensure that you phrase your question accurately to solicit the response that you require.”

Tina Johnson from Murchinson Area School: “We don’t hold a school ball – might of course be why we didn’t answer your questions?”

Earthquake guilt trip

Jan Croft or Sue Hume from Avonside Girls’ High: [I'm assuming Sue Hume is the principal who wrote it and Jan forwarded it on] “I would like you to understand that we are rather busy just now.

We are living in the midst of earthquakes. Our school is badly damaged.

Our girls travel across the city to learn at another school.

We are working really hard to re-establish our school in our community for next year. There are many, many difficulties and challenges.

School formals and after parties are not what is at the forefront of our minds.

From my understanding, there are a number of working days left for me to respond to your request.

A more conciliatory and appreciative tone might be more likely to elicit the response that you seek.”

[response to questions was below]

 

More soon.

Image credit: Niv Singer

The War On Youth: Pak’nSave Responds

Posted in Law, Life, New Zealand on December 21st, 2011 by Matt Taylor – 5 Comments

Pak'nSave shoppersTheir reply to “Random” Pak’nSave Bag Searches. No comment on women with handbags or what happens if I did have something in my bag that I had bought from another supermarket.

Dear Matt,

I can confirm that our bag policy is applicable regardless of a customer’s age and is simply designed to prevent an ongoing shoplifting issue which we are trying to manage. We have a prominent sign in-store which clearly states that ‘We reserve the right to check all bags and may require you to leave large bags with a staff member while shopping.’

While I do appreciate having your bag checked is an inconvenience, unfortunately due to the level of shoplifting we experience in-store, it is an unavoidable part of how we are forced to do business, we would certainly prefer to not check customer’s bags but sometimes even with cameras and other security measures we are left with no option. I apologise if you felt you were unfairly treated and I hope you will continue to shop at my store.

My staff remain committed to giving our customers the best possible shopping experience, and by endeavouring to keep shoplifting to a minimum we hope we can deliver the lowest everyday prices.

Kind regards,

Steven McDonald
Owner
PAK’nSAVE Riccarton

Image credit: Naomi

The War On Youth: “Random” Pak’nSave Bag Searches

Posted in Life, New Zealand on December 15th, 2011 by Matt Taylor – 7 Comments

Trolley outside shop

Update: Pak’nSave responds.

An open letter.

Dear People of Pak’nSave Riccarton,

On 15 December I shopped at Riccarton Pak’nSave with a group of other young people.

After purchasing items at a self-checkout directly in front of one of your staff (really, she was right beside me), she requested to search my bag. I had not touched the bag during my visit so this request was not based on any actual evidence that I had attempted to steal something, like from a store detective or a camera.

It was extremely obvious that this was not a random search, as she called it. It was because of my age. Three other people from our group were selected for a “random” search. I wonder how many women with handbags were searched that day? I know my friend that came through the self-checkout after us wasn’t.

I declined the request.

I waited for the rest of our group and left the store. I was followed by a store manager who put his arm touching up against me, and tried to stop me from leaving. I declined again, which I have the right to do, no matter your signage, and walked away.

It’s disgusting to treat your paying customers like this.

Do you consider that bags contain personal possessions? That most people wouldn’t decline your request to search, because it makes them look and feel like a criminal? That searching personal possessions could reveal, say, a private medical condition?

I wonder what the purpose of these “random” searches are. Say I did consent to the search, I had items in my bag that I didn’t buy or steal from Pak’nSave, but that you sell. I didn’t have the receipt. What would happen then? Would you accuse me of stealing those items? Would you call the police on me? If not, why are you searching young people? Scare tactics? That isn’t the definition of a reasonable search.

If it is your policy to target young people or people with backpacks (read: young people), it needs to change. It is discriminatory and wrong.

If you weren’t the only supermarket at Westfield Riccarton, I wouldn’t shop with you again.

Kind regards

Matt Taylor

Image credit: bfick

Update: Here’s Aliza Eveleigh on bag searches (click for larger version): The Star Aliza Eveleigh bag search

The Slippery Slope of Gay Marriage

Posted in Law, Worldwide on November 5th, 2011 by Matt Taylor – 1 Comment

Is, in reality, not so slippery. (ht: @hamfritta, from reddit)

Explaining gay rightsThe toaster part is hilarious, but here’s something to think about from SuperStuff01:

“Me and my toaster actually have more rights than a gay couple do.

If I bought my toaster in another country, I could bring it into the US.

If I’m sick in the hospital, I can bring my toaster in with me.

If my toaster breaks, I’m given the legal power to make decisions as to how best to fix it.

I don’t risk getting attacked when I carry my toaster with me in public.”

mistermordancy points out that would make a great ad:

“Does anyone else think this would make a really good gay rights/equality advert? Like you see this guy walk around with a toaster, holding on to the toaster, having the toaster with him in hospital, bringing the toaster into work and all his co-workers crowd round and congratulate him.

Then the ad repeats with two men…”

From Today: Three Strikes and You’re Out

Posted in Law, New Zealand on August 11th, 2011 by Matt Taylor – 5 Comments

Copyright infringements, from today, come under the poorly worded, poorly debated regime introduced in the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act. Infringement notices can be sent out 21 days from today, on September 1st.

The aim is to make it easier for rights owners to take action against copyright infringers who download music, movies, TV shows, books, software etc. Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is the intended target, but the law seems like it could include other types of file sharing, which will end up being clarified by the Copyright Tribunal or the courts:

file sharing is where—

  • “(a) material is uploaded via, or downloaded from, the Internet using an application or network that enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users; and
  • “(b) uploading and downloading may, but need not, occur at the same time

Some examples of the software likely covered under the law (if they’re being used to download infringing content) are here.

Process

TorrentingNotices from rights owners are sent to alleged infringers through their internet protocol address provider (effectively their internet service provider), like Telecom, Orcon and Slingshot. The order of the three notices (hence the three strikes name) are a detection notice, warning notice and then an enforcement notice. What notice you’re on is specific to each rights owner, eg. if you’re on the second notice, a warning notice, with Sony, a notice sent from Universal would be a detection notice, the first notice, assuming this is your first run in with Universal. This example, however, seems like it would be muddied if Sony and Universal both use an agent to do their bidding for them and it is the same agent.

There is a 28 day on-notice period after a detection or warning notice is issued where alleged infringements against that rights owner don’t count towards the next notice.

Detection and warning notices expire nine months after the date of the original detection notice. Enforcement notices expire 35 days after they are dated. The expiration of an enforcement notice expires the previous detection and warning notices too.

Rights owners pay $25 + GST to the IPAP for each notice they send through them. IPAPs have said that this won’t cover the set up and ongoing costs that this act cause, which will probably mean higher internet prices for everyone.

Rights owners don’t see an alleged infringer’s personal details.

The Copyright Tribunal

When an alleged infringer is on an enforcement notice, the rights owner can pay $200 to take them to the Copyright Tribunal, which will normally accept written submissions, but a face to face hearing can be requested by either party. Legal representation isn’t allowed at the hearing, but the rights owner will likely be represented by someone who knows what they’re talking about. Fines can be ordered of up to $15,000. There’s a provision in the act for rights owners to apply to a District Court to get an accused’s internet access cut off for up to six months. It’s currently not available, but could theoretically be implemented at any time.

Challenging notices

The normal burden of proof is reversed with an alleged infringer having to prove that they didn’t infringe copyright (how you prove you didn’t do something, I’m not sure). A notice can be challenged by an alleged infringer. Challenges have to be received by the IPAP no more than 14 days after the notice was dated. It’s up to the rights holder whether they reject or accept the challenge. If a rights holder doesn’t respond to a challenge before the close of the 28th day after the original notice was dated, the challenge is deemed to be accepted.

Account holder

The account holder, most likely the person whose name is on the bill, is liable for any content downloaded or uploaded over the connection they pay for. Unlike speeding tickets there’s no way to transfer this liability. Schools and pupils, universities and students, businesses and employees, libraries and library users, parents and children, landlords and tenants or flatmates could all be affected because of this. This also means that account holders are liable for guests or people they don’t even know who might be accessing their unsecured wireless internet (if you’re not sure if your wireless internet is secure, you can Google something like ‘securing wireless internet’ to make sure).

Effect on illegal file sharing

The regime ends up being ridiculous because a moderately technically competent person can get around it easily. Extreme illegal file sharers are probably already protecting themselves using seedboxes or VPNs. More casual downloaders will likely swap to using seedboxes, VPNs, streaming websites, searching file storage websites like Mediafire with Google or downloading audio from YouTube after they receive a few detection notices. There’s also the possibility of them avoiding the regime using mobile internet, which isn’t covered under the law until October 2013, or by using unsecured or free Wi-Fi.

Is this the death of free Wi-Fi? Are Rugby World Cup tourists going to wonder why their accommodation doesn’t include internet access? Are some ISPs going to start blocking all P2P traffic regardless of the legality of it?

It will be interesting to see which rights owners choose to send notices under the new regime. To be honest, I’m not sure how initiating a process that leads to the Copyright Tribunal is going to want to make people spend money with a company.

More information at 3strikesNZ.

Image credit: Jennie Faber

Shutting Down Skynet: The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill

Posted in Law, New Zealand on April 14th, 2011 by Matt Taylor – 19 Comments

Home taping is killing music and it's illegalYesterday the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill was unexpectedly rushed through Parliament during an urgent session brought about because of the Christchurch earthquake. This morning it was passed and will come into force on September 1st.

Watching the session was frustrating as few contributors truly understood file sharing and the Internet. Gareth Hughes is one of the few who actually gets it. See him talking here, here and here. He brought up a number of good points including:

  • Access to the Internet is vital.
  • Termination not being enacted straight away is just a delay.
  • Many downloads are because content is not even available legally in New Zealand.

@thomaslebas on Gareth Hughes using real tweets in Copyright (Infringing Filesharing) Bill Parliament debate(via)

The Green Party opposed the Bill because the disconnection provision was still included. Labour didn’t like the disconnection provision either, however still supported the Bill. As Labour MP Clare Curran explains on the Red Alert blog:

Account suspension remains in the bill and could theoretically be used in the future, but any Minister who implements termination will have to wear the consequences. It won’t be a Labour Minister.

This happened many times throughout the night: great points against this Bill were brought up (like disconnection; the fact it’s being rushed; that the MPs themselves don’t know what their children are downloading from the Internet, keep in mind that the MP as the probable account holder will be responsible for their children’s downloading), but then the person finished with their overall support of the Bill. Someone (I think on Twitter, sorry I lost the source) summed it up nicely: “they’re fundamentally opposed to something, yet they vote for it”.

Without this legislation copyright holders could still send warning notices, but this legislation is intended to make the process faster and cheaper. Another side effect is that the process will favor copyright holders. After receiving a warning notice from a copyright holder, it is up to the Internet account customer to prove their innocence (reversing the usual burden of proof). This basically assumes that users who have been sent notices are infringers. It is unclear (to me at least) how someone will prove that they haven’t downloaded or uploaded a file. This is concerning because copyright owners seem to get it wrong regularly. For example a University Of Washington study found they could get a copyright warning sent to a printer that wasn’t uploading or downloading copyrighted files. They say:

Q: I’m a network operator working at an ISP. Should I be suspicious of DMCA takedown notices?

Yes. Our results show that some methods used to generate DMCA takedown notices in BitTorrent are not conclusive and may misidentify users. This may also be true for other P2P networks.

A U.S. study found 57% of DMCA notices sent to Google for removal of material were sent by business targeting competitors and 37% of notices were not valid copyright claims. (Source: J Urban & L Quilter, ‘Efficient Process or “Chilling Effects”? Takedown Notices Under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’, http://static.chillingeffects.org/Urban-Quilter-512-summary.pdf (mirror))

In addition to the maximum $15k fine that the Copyright Tribunal can impose on someone who has received three warnings, there is a provision in the legislation to allow the Commerce Minister to introduce a six month Internet account suspension penalty applied by a District Court. In the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Information Economy Report, UNCTAD/SDTE/ECB/2006/1, Nov 2006, broadband is recognized as an essential utility for individuals. Disconnection from the internet is a disproportional punishment compared with the effects of illegal file sharing.

The legislation makes the Internet account holder responsible for all Internet use through that connection, treating all content downloaded/uploaded by different people through a connection as one. This may mean that a family member, flatmate or landlord is responsible for other people’s illegal file sharing. This also means that account holders could get the blame for things that people they don’t even live in the house do. The account holders would be responsible for random people accessing poorly protected wireless networks, for example.

Is pirating content really that bad?

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says in a report (via):

U.S. government and industry claims that piracy damages the economy to the tune of billions of dollars “cannot be substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies.”

and

“Some experts we interviewed and literature we reviewed identified potential positive economic effects of counterfeiting and piracy. Some consumers may knowingly purchase a counterfeit or pirated product because it is less expensive than the genuine good or because the genuine good is unavailable, and they may experience positive effects from such purchases. Consumers may use pirated goods to ‘sample’ music, movies, software, or electronic games before purchasing legitimate copies. (This) may lead to increased sales of legitimate goods.”

From a TorrentFreak article:

Although IFPI refused to share the entire research report with TorrentFreak, we can conclude the following from the two pages that were published online (pdf).

Compared to music buyers, music sharers (pirates) are…

* 31% more likely to buy single tracks online.
* 33% more likely to buy music albums online.
* 100% more likely to pay for music subscription services.
* 60% more likely to pay for music on mobile phone.

and

[Mark Mulligan, Vice President and Research Director at Forrester Research who conducted the study for IFPI (who “represents the recording industry worldwide”] has his hands tied and couldn’t say much about the findings without IFPI’s approval, but we managed to get confirmation that paying file-sharers are the music industry’s best customers. “A significant share of music buyers are file sharers also. These music buyers tend to be higher spending music buyers,” Mulligan told TorrentFreak.

TorrentFreak on artists actually profiting from piracy:

A study by Blackburn (2004), a PhD student from Harvard, found that the 75% of the [artists] actually profit from piracy. Blackburn reports that the most popular [artists] (top 25%) sell less records. However, the remaining 75% of all artists actually profit from [file sharing]. The same pattern was found by Pedersen (2006, see graph), who analyzed the change in royalties paid by the Nordisk Copyright Bureau between 2001 and 2005.

Michael Geist on a study of music purchasing habits commissioned by Industry Canada:

When assessing the P2P downloading population, there was “a strong positive relationship between P2P file sharing and CD purchasing.  That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file sharing increases CD purchases.” The study estimates that 12 additional P2P downloads per month increases music purchasing by 0.44 CDs per year.

When viewed in the [aggregate] (ie. the entire Canadian population), there is no direct relationship between P2P file sharing and CD purchases in Canada.  According to the study authors, “the analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased. That is, we find no direct evidence to suggest that the net effect of P2P file sharing on CD purchasing is either positive or negative for Canada as a whole.”

Additionally, downloading doesn’t equal lost sales, some people are trying before they buy. And some people are downloading because they can’t get the content legally.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern talked about illegal downloading of music hurting small artists, but it’s only the big record companies that you ever hear complaining. Big companies have bigger voices, but small artists are the ones embracing downloads by putting songs up for free on their websites.

A statistic was brought up last night that 90% of people say they will stop downloading illegally after two warnings. There’s a difference between saying and doing and I doubt there’ll be a change.

Will this make those pirates start buying again, or will they just go find the same stuff elsewhere? (via)

Update 17/04/2011: On the InternetNZ blog they point to Amanda Palmer at Webstock 2011 talking about music and giving it away for free. The relevant part starts at 25:00 but her whole talk is worth watching.

Update 19/04/2011: Jonathan Hunt tweeted a link to an episode of This Way Up on Radio NZ. Paul Brislen (from the Telecommunications Users Association Of New Zealand) and Peter Griffin (the Herald’s technology blogger) do a role play of what the notice process could be like, it starts around a third of the way in. You can listen here (MP3).

Some good points brought up:

  • Generally no legal representation is allowed at the Copyright Tribunal. There will be mums and dads who have no idea what is going on, trying to prove their innocence. There will be ignoring of notices out of confusion.
  • This could end up costing IPAPs (defined in the Bill as traditional ISPs; not universities, libraries, and businesses) who estimate costs as $14 to $56 per notice. It is noted in the Bill “that the United Kingdom has recently decided on a cost-sharing approach between rights holders and Internet service providers, at a ratio of 75:25 respectively”. ISPs overseas receive a huge number of these notices each day.
  • If you have a business with 5000 employees, how do you track down whose actions resulted in a copyright warning being sent?
  • If an Internet account is suspended, is the suspension meant to apply to all ISPs? If yes, is there going to be a database of offenders (potential privacy concerns). If no, couldn’t someone call another ISP and sign up with them?
  • This is only targeting P2P file sharing. If someone illegally downloads directly from a website, they’re unlikely to be tracked down unless website logs are kept and are requested by rights holders through the courts.
  • The regime won’t apply to mobile networks until August 2013. It is even easier to “sign up” for a new account; go down to the supermarket and buy another SIM card.

Update 4/06/2011: The United Nations has released a significant report (PDF) relating to freedom of expression on the Internet. A couple of paragraphs are extremely relevant to this post:

49. …he is alarmed by proposals to disconnect users from Internet access if they violate intellectual property rights. This also includes legislation based on the concept of “graduated response”, which imposes a series of penalties on copyright infringers that could lead to suspension of Internet service, such as the so-called “three-strikes-law” in France34 and the Digital Economy Act 2010 of the United Kingdom.35

78. …cutting off users from Internet access, regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
79. …the Special Rapporteur urges States to repeal or amend existing intellectual copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws.

Image credit: Gary Denham