joins the blackout (Updated)

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

Regular visitors will notice that the site has suddenly developed a black theme. The reason is our support of the Internet Blackout being promoted by the Creative Freedom Foundation in response to s92A of the Copyright Act, which takes effect on 28 February 2009.

This invidious piece of legislation allows Internet users to be disconnected by their ISPs based on “guilt by accusation” – if a copyright owners such as RIANZ say that a user is downloading content illegally from the Internet, their ISP is obliged to act on the accusation. In practice, this means that the ISP will disconnect the user from their Internet connection – with no proof necessary, no redress, no chance to argue, and no natural justice.

There’s nowhere else in New Zealand law where you’re presumed guilty and have no access to justice, and New Zealand appears to be the only country in the world that has adopted this draconian approach to copyright enforcement. When amendments to the Copyright Act were being considered by Parliament, this “guilt by accusation” clause was removed by the Select Committee. But then-Minister Judith Tizard reinstated it, with the complicity of National’s Chris Finlayson, cravenly pandering to industry lobbyists. (Mark Harris has a great summary of the behind-closed-doors dealings here.)

So please join the protest. You can e-mail your MP, protest online, or join the protest outside Parliament at 12:00 midday on Thursday 19 February.

Update: The protest has certainly got the attention of the world’s media, and it looks like slow progress is being made towards a copyright regime that reflects the reality of the 21st Century. Russell Brown summarises the state of the play, and normal colours have now been resumed on the Mt Victoria website.

Your presence in court is requested …

Image credit: Joe Gratz, via Flickr

As residents may know, the Mt Victoria Residents Association is taking legal action in the High Court against the Wellington City Council, seeking a review of the resource consent granted to the brothel at 103 Pirie Street. This action is due to be heard by the Court on Monday 2nd March.

The lawyers for the Residents Association – Bennion Law – advised that the hearing is open to the public, and community members & concerned citizens are welcome to attend in the public gallery.

The details are after the jump:

Monday 2 March, 10.00 am at High Court (room TBD) 2 Molesworth St
The Residents Association is scheduled for a day and a half of hearing time, although it may conclude sooner. You are welcome to come for whatever time suits, and it’s perfectly acceptable to come and go from the room.

Approximate timings on the day:
10.00am – 11.30 Hearing
Short break around 11.30
11.45am to 12.30 Hearing
12.30 – 1.30 Lunch
1.30 – 5pm Hearing.

Bennion Law advise that these times are flexible and may change based on the needs of the Court.

Volunteers needed for Festival

Image credit: vern, via Flickr

We need a few people to help with the smooth running of the Mt Victoria Inner City Festival on Saturday 28 February. There are some simple, straightforward tasks that we need a hand with, such as …

Friday 27 February, during the day
• Preparing stall sites
• Chalking the streets as promotion
• Set up inside of stalls, exhibitions, workshop area – generally getting things ready

Saturday 28 February – Festival day!
• Picking up a bouncy castle from 40 Lincoln Ave, Avalon – car with tow bar needed (and returning at the end of the day)
• Manning the road closure – 2 hour stints from 8am
• Setting up/cleaning up
• Manning the trust stall/HQ selling raffles, jam and providing information (schedules etc will be provided)
• Manning the sausage sizzle or steak sandwiches
• Rubbish/Recycling management
• Managing workshops and art/photo exhibitions (Inside Crossways)
• Collecting a koha for the historical walks at 11.30am and 1pm
• Baking for volunteers
• Providing a car park/s for affected residents in Caroline and Roxburgh for the day

The times we need help from are anytime between 8am – 5pm.

If you are able to help to make this event a huge success – we’d be so grateful! There may be another way you’d like to help out, so we’re all ears.

If you can help, please e-mail event organiser Tania Austin – tania[at]

Police: Forensic analysis reveals hit and run vehicle had blue paint

The Police have issued a statement about the vehicle involved in the hit and run incident in the Pirie Street bus tunnel last week:

ESR forensic analysis of clothing worn by the victim of a hit and run in a Wellington bus tunnel nearly two weeks ago has revealed that a blue coloured vehicle was involved.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Thornton, Wellington CIB, said finding the vehicle with this coloured paint is crucial in helping to find the driver who was responsible for the hit and run.

Wellington man Mr Earl Krayskopf was walking through the bus only tunnel at the top of Pirie Street as a shortcut through Mt Victoria to his home early on Saturday morning, 31 January.

He was hit from behind by a vehicle also using the tunnel as an illegal shortcut and received multiple serious injuries. The hit and run happened between 3.15am and 4am.

Mr Krayskopf is still in intensive care at Wellington Hospital and requires further surgery to repair injuries to his lower body.

Detective Senior Sergeant Thornton said very little information has come in from people who were in the Mt Victoria area at the time Mr Krayskopf was injured.

“We hope that the paint analysis from fragments on the victim’s jacket may focus public attention to a blue vehicle that has recently been damaged.

“From the extent of the victim’s injuries and the paint fragments on his clothing we know that the vehicle involved will have some body or paint work damage.

“The driver or owner may have taken it to a panel beater for repairs. They may have tried to fix it themselves or have parked it up out of sight.

“If anyone has any information about a vehicle with blue paint that has recently been damaged then we would like to hear from them,” he said. “The driver who struck Mr Krayskopf must know what happened. We urge that person and anyone with information about the hit and run to contact police.”

If anyone has information about this shocking incident, they are asked to call Wellington Police on 0800 TIPOFF or 381 2000.

Editorial: It’s time for the Council to take action! (updated)

There’s been extensive media coverage over the last few days about the hit-and-run in the Pirie Street bus tunnel, much of which has highlighted the dangers for pedestrians.

And gratifyingly, the speed bumps at each end of the tunnel have now been reinstated by the contractor who failed to complete the resurfacing work correctly a few weeks ago.

But the Council seems quite reluctant to take the next step and install barrier arms to prevent cars illegally using the tunnel once the buses have stopped for the night. In this morning’s Dominion Post, Council spokesperson Richard MacLean says:

“There have been discussions about gates, but we are taking a look at the whole issue, and we’ll see if the problem continues.”

That’s not good enough.

Mr MacLean’s statement does beg the question – how many people will have to be injured in hit-and-runs before the Council takes action? Why is one person lying in intensive care in Wellington Hospital not enough for the Council? After all, this is the same Council that last year spent $750,000 simply reducing congestion on Aeota Quay – which won’t save a single life.

The problem with illegal tunnel runners is certainly continuing. On Sunday, local residents left a video camera running for about three hours, and this was the result:

A van tailgating the bus into the tunnel, a speeding 4WD and two pedestrians – all in around three hours. So let’s be entirely clear: There’s a problem here. And it’s time that the Council stepped up to the plate, acknowledged the issue and developed a plan for addressing it.

Update: The Council has now agreed to a meeting on Monday 16 February, after some facilitation by Eastern Ward Councillor Rob Goulden. We’ll provide an update of what they intend doing after the meeting.