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Net users in New Zealand are threatening to cut their ties with the country's biggest ISP, Xtra, after it introduced sweeping new terms of service (ToS) that effectively hands it ownership of all content passing through its system.

The draconian measure was highlighted by IT columnist Bruce Simpson earlier this week giving Xtra "perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide licence" to "use, copy, sublicence, redistribute, adapt, transmit, publish, delete, edit and/or broadcast, publicly perform or display".

Bruce explained that the new clause gives Xtra the green light to use and abuse any content hosted on its servers. And he warns that unless Xtra - owned by the country's dominant telco, Telecom - changes its ways, he'll be forced to switch ISPs.

As he explained: "As an author, writer, publisher and inventor...I'll have no option but to cancel my Xtra account. It would be economic suicide for me to do otherwise. I can't afford to give away irrevocable, royalty-free licenses and sublicenses to anyone! Who can?"

Xtra's move was jumped on by politician, Matt Robinson, who weighed into the debate warning that New Zealand's economic development faced a "serious threat".

In a statement he said that Xtra covertly changed its terms of service to assert the ownership of any intellectual property passing through its servers.

"Any idea, design or creativity hosted on a website by Telecom, or passing through an Xtra email account, can be claimed by Telecom. It is the same as the Post Office saying that it can take ownership of any ideas sent through the mail," he said.

If this wasn't bad enough, it was then revealed that Xtra had a clause stating that users weren't allowed to be crictical of the ISP. If it's "detrimental to our reputation or to our brand" then "you agree that we may edit, delete, block or disconnect that material or communication ourselves", said the ToS.

As Bruce puts it: "Now I'm sorry but this has simply gone way beyond an amusing joke.

"Talk about and fascism!

"No objective journalist can now afford to use Xtra, since they are forbidden from saying anything other than nice or neutral things about the company," he wrote.

To cap it all, it also seems that Xtra has been found copying content for use on its own Web pages. Enough already. To read that amusing tale, click here. ®

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