The Commerce Select Committee has reported back on the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill (PDF).
One of the problems in the drafting of such a law is how to define what an ISP is. The obvious approach is “provides internet services” but what about a cafe that gives free wireless access to customers? Or a university that provides services to staff and students? The problem is a lot harder than it looks.
The latest report suggests replacing the definition of “Internet Service Provider” with one for “Internet Protocol Address Provider” or IPAP.
This would avoid ambiguity and focus on the function of an Internet service provider that is relevant to infringing file sharing, namely the provision of Internet protocol addresses.
Of course, this does no such thing as anyone providing any form of internet service must provide an “Internet protocol address” to each person using it. It’s inherent to the nature of an Internet connection and, once again, shows that Government isn’t very good at technology. Edit: This may be trying to protect providers of low level services such as cabling and fibre.
However, when we look at the full definition, maybe it’s not so bad:
IPAP means a person that operates a business that, other than as an incidental feature of its main business activities,
(a) offers the transmission, routing and providing of connections for digital online communications, between or mong point specified by user, or material of the user’s choosing; and
(ab) allocates IP addresses to its account holders; and
(b) charges its account holders for its services; and
(c) is not primarily operated to cater for transient users.
A discussed, the inclusion of “(ab) allocates IP addresses” seems a bit unnecessary but overall the definition seems to hold up under scrutiny.
- Orcon and other ISPs would obviously be an IPAP.
- Cafenet supports both transient and account-based users. Should it be an IPAP?
- Universities and libraries would not be an IPAP because of (b) (there is no direct charging although student fees do include provision for services).
- Someone sharing a connection with their friends would not be an IPAP because of (b).
- Citylink would be an IPAP. (Should it be? See discussion in comments.)
- The local coffee shop would not be an IPAP because of (b) and (c).
- Would an Internet cafe be included? They do charge, the users vary between transient and regular.
- Mobile data from Vodafone/Telecom/2 Degrees will not be included for now, because a separate clause delays their inclusion until 1 August 2013.
How have they done? Please help.
Can you think of any cases:
- Where a person or company will be included as an IPAP that shouldn’t be?
- Where a person or company that should be an IPAP won’t be?