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Quick guide to the new copyright bill

Posted on April 14, 2011

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill is a replacement for the abandoned section 92A of the Copyright Act. It provides provisions for media companies to accuse people of infringing copyright, and for those people to be fined by the Copyright Tribunal. It also includes the penalty of disconnecting their internet - but this provision will initially be suspended.

The Bill went through one round of submissions (see ours) but the second reading was done under parliamentary urgency on the 13th of April and it is expected to be passed, still under urgency, on the 14th of April.

Updates: the bill has passed its third reading and will come into effect on September 1st, 2011. The Ministry of Economic Development is consulting on the regulations that will help with the administration of the law.

Improvements

The Bill has some improvements over section 92A:

  • It has replaced the overly wide definition of ISP (Internet Service Provider) with the idea of an IPAP (Internet Protocol Address Provider).
  • The person accused of infringing copyright now has a chance to defend themselves against the accusations.
  • It doesn't make ISPs responsible for making decisions about disconnection - they just have to pass messages between the accuser and the accused.
  • It better respects the privacy of account holders.

Major problems

But overall it still has some major problems:

  • It makes the person whose name is on the internet account liable for all actions done by any user of that connection. Flatmates will be responsible for the people they live with, businesses will be responsible for their staff, parents will be responsible for their kids, librarians will be responsible for the users of their free internet terminals. Sharing your internet connection will put you at legal risk.
  • It includes the idea that the Copyright Tribunal should believe the accusation from the media companies unless the account holder can prove it to be wrong. This is even when these accusations have been proven time and time again to often be substantially inaccurate. There are no penalties for making false accusations.
  • It still includes internet disconnection as a penalty. Initially this provision will be suspended but it can be reactivated at the whim of the government. We oppose disconnection.

Political support

National, Labour and the Maori Party are voting in favour of the Bill.

The Greens are voting against it.

Tech Liberty articles about the bill

Other articles of note

Posted by Thomas Beagle

Comments (6) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Yep – the account holder things seems vulnerable to me – and contrary to natural justice. It’s one thing to prove a specific piece of data went over the wire (encryption notwithstanding) – but to conclusively prove that a specific person initiated the transfer is quite another.

  2. I think it’d be more productive if they focussed on illegal uploading, distribution and sale of copyrighted material onto the internet, as opposed to the downloading of such material. It causes more harm in the act of uploading content illegally than it does downloading it.
    What is their aim in passing this legislation?
    Say, if they wanted to protect the content of New Zealand music artists, it’d make more sense to shut down the source of the material instead of taking away the internet connection of someone who has downloaded it.

  3. I just added your blog site to my blogroll, I pray you would give some thought to doing the same.

  4. When does this come into affect?

  5. This seems very open to abuse… whats to stop some one accusing every member of Parliament of copyright infringement?


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