3 Apr 2015

Planet Key musician 'vindicated'

10:51 am on 3 April 2015

The musician behind the satirical song 'Planet Key' feels vindicated by court decision overturning a ban on the song.

The High Court has ruled against the Electoral Commission's decision to ban broadcasts of the song and music video.

A screenshot of Darren Watson's Planet Key video

A screenshot of Darren Watson's Planet Key video Photo: DARREN WATSON

Created by Darren Watson and Jeremy Jones, 'Planet Key' was released last August before the general election and was a parody on reasons to vote for John Key.

The commission had concluded the song and video were an election programme and advertisement under the terms of the Electoral Act and the Broadcasting Act.

Read the complete judgment

Darren Watson said the High Court ruling overturning that decision was good for free speech and creative freedom.

"I think [the decision is] so important. Right from the start, I've known this hasn't been about my little song - which is going to be forgotten," he said.

"It's about every artist in New Zealand having a right to say what they want, even if that involves a political statement."

Otago University Public Law professor Andrew Geddis said the judgment clarified the controls on election-related speech, and was good for democracy.

"I think anyone looking at the situation, thinking about what we want in our democracy would say people have to be able to write, and sing, and perform, and broadcast and publish these sorts of things. It's a very important part of our discourse," he said.

"Now, the Commission in giving its advice, took a very conservative view of the law and its just great the courts have managed to find a way to say to the Commision: no, that's not what you need to do."

Justice Denis Clifford, in a 76-page judgment, found the song was not in breach of the Electoral Act, nor the Broadcasting Act.

Justice Clifford said an interpretation consistent with the advice the Electoral Commission was receiving "would impose limits on the right of freedom of expression of the plaintiffs and New Zealand citizens more generally in a manner which, in my view, cannot be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society".

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