If you see black avatars on Twitter or blacked out MySpace and Facebook profiles it is not some glitch or virus, but a protest against amendment 92 to the New Zealand Copyright Act of 1994.
Apparently ISPs have the ability, no the imperative to take down any content accused of copyright infringement. The people accused will have their internet connection severed, stories have reported,
"TelstraClear’s (one of the largest ISPs in New Zealand) head of corporate services, Mathew Bolland, says from November 1, if TelstraClear hosts a website and someone phones up complaining that site has breached their copyright, TelstraClear will have to take the site down.
“We don’t check or verify,” he says. “We take it down,” New Zealand's CompterWorld reported.
The GeekZone reports, "What's more, under the new law, anyone who provides any form of services over the Internet is an ISP. That means libraries, councils, schools, businesses, government offices, you name it" could be dropped.
British actor Stephen Fry (@StephenFry) has supported the protest and hopes many of his 190,000 plus Twitter followers do the same.
Creative Freedom explains how to black out the social media in an effort to impact the act which could become law "February 28th that calls for internet disconnection based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without any evidence held up to court scrutiny."
Perhaps this could be the first true test of the power of social media. The protest is to occur from February 16-23 - my avatar is blacked out on Twitter in support - now let's see who else joins and what effect it has.
Interestingly similar acts have failed to get support in the EU and the UK.
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