The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
It can be hard work getting honest and relevant comment from people involved in the ongoing Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. But when the person answering the questions is a minister who demands any questions be emailed rather than answered in a verbal interview, things get downright ridiculous.
Below are a series of selected questions and answers taken from two emails sent by PC World to Trade minister Tim Groser and his public relations team.
Question: Do you agree with any of the principles or suggested changes to ACTA raised in the Wellington Declaration. If so, which ones do you agree with?
Answer: I had the opportunity to meet with many of those involved in drafting the 'Wellington Declaration' at the function held for ACTA participants and stakeholders on Tuesday night, and I welcome their input into the process. Our negotiators will be working to reflect a balanced approach in the negotiation.
Question: If it were solely up to the New Zealand government, how would the scope of ACTA be changed?
Answer: We want to tackle the global problem of counterfeiting and piracy through this agreement. We are actively working within ACTA negotiations to ensure our interests are secured across all areas of coverage of this proposed agreement in a balanced way.
Question: What evidence is there that a new digital enforcement framework is needed (in response to InternetNZ's argument that online piracy has not resulted in a drop in the supply of "new works" and may have in fact helped some commercial rights holders)?
Answer: ACTA participants are not negotiating scope of copyright protection that should be given to new or original digital works. This is an issue that ACTA will leave to each party to determine for themselves. Rather, ACTA aims is to ensure that where works are protected by copyright under a party's domestic copyright law, copyright owners have available to them standard procedures and measures to facilitate action being taken to address infringement of their copyright.
I'm not sure what you think but these answers seem pretty evasive to me. They say a lot without illuminating anything and appear to come straight out of the key messages section of a PR communications strategy. Is the only way to get a useful answer out of a politician to perform a doorstop interview on the street these days? What do you think? Does this say anything about democracy in 2010?