Welcome to the new world of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Act.
This is the law that:
- Makes internet account holders liable for the actions of others, even when there is no reasonable expectation that they could control their behaviour.
- Will make it very hard for anyone, including universities, libraries, motels and cafes, to offer internet access to their patrons as they can't risk penalties of up to $15,000.
- Can fine people for downloading material that isn't even available for purchase in New Zealand.
- Takes away the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, by assuming that complainants are telling the truth, leaving people having to prove that they didn't do something.
While the law comes into effect on September 1st, notices can be sent for activity up to 21 days earlier. This means that you could get a notice for any activity from August 11th onwards - today.
The law is meant to be aimed at people infringing copyright by downloading material without permission over peer to peer (P2P) file sharing - BitTorrent, eDonkey, etc. However it is written in such a way that it might be possible to use it for other forms of online infringement such as downloading from websites or watching streaming video. We'll be testing that further from September 1st.
Who is at risk?
The person whose name is on the internet account. They're liable for the actions of all people who use that internet account.
What can I do to protect myself?
If you're the account holder, make sure you know what everyone who uses your internet is doing. Don't let people use your account if you don't trust them not to download infringing material via file-sharing.
- Our article, What you need to know about the new copyright law.
- Flowcharts showing the processes included in the law (thanks to the TCF).
- Think you can become an ISP/IPAP and thereby pass your liability on to your users? Our article explains why you probably can't.
- 13 reasons why the Infringing File Sharing Act is bad for you by Christopher Wood.
- 3 Strikes NZ website about the new law.
- Information from the Ministry of Economic Development.
- The text of the law.