Over the past week, New Zealanders have been protesting against the introduction of a new law which was set to come into immediate effect on February 28th. Section 92A, an amendment to the copyright act, saw internet disconnection based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without any evidence held up to court scrutiny.
The “blackout” campaign saw Twitter and Facebook users turn their avatars to black, not just those in New Zealand, but Twitter heavyweights such as Stephen Fry, Leo Laporte, Howard Rheingold, Cory Doctorow, Xeni Jardin and Neil Gaiman. Websites all ran ads about the blackout campaign.
In fact, #blackout was the top term on Twitter during the week.
The campaign wasn’t merely an online one – a protest was held outside parliament with plain black placards, with wide media coverage. A petition with more than 10,000 signatures was presented to politician Peter Dunne.
The blackout protest culminated today with “thousands” of sites — including our own — taking all their content offline and displaying the following message (click to enlarge):
Merely hours later, the politicians caved and delayed the law coming into effect, a possible scrapping of the law altogether if agreement can’t be met between major stakeholders and promising a review after six months.
Today I felt like democracy really meant something. People were listened to. We changed the course of history.
As br3nda on Twitter put it, “Power to the Tweeple”.
Aside from the immense joy of knowing that the government responded to our concerns, I will always remember back to a session at Kiwi Foo Camp just over a week ago. It was an electric defining moment where a small group of people led by Matthew Holloway of the Creative Freedom Foundation got together with a plan to stop the law coming into effect. In merely one hour, ideas and plans flowed for how to stage the protests. Time before the law came into effect was short but so much was accomplished in the week which was to follow. I’m so proud to have been in that room and to have seen and experienced what has been done in the last nine days. To see the story grab the world’s attention was inspiring.
This will be seen as a case study for the whole world on what can be done online through tools such as Twitter and Facebook and cooperation between people and websites which would normally not work together.
This may be the first time in the world that the use of Twitter delayed (or possibly stopped) a law coming into effect.
Thanks to Regan for compiling this list of links about the story, before today’s breakthrough news:
If your link is missing, please add it in the comments section.
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