Parliament has passed the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Act.
Here’s 10 things that you need to know about it:
- What: Infringing file sharing is the act of downloading or uploading copyrighted content without permission. This can apply to any content, e.g. movies, TV shows, music, pictures, books, games or software.
- When. The new law comes into effect from September 1st 2011. You can receive a notice for infringing file sharing that took place from any time from August 10th (21 days before Sept 1st). Mobile phones are excluded until 30 September 2013.
- Who. The account holder (the person who pays for the internet conection) is the one who is legally responsible for any infringing file sharing occurring over that connection. You are not legally liable if you use someone else’s internet connection, although they won’t be very happy about it and may be able to come after you.
- Getting caught. You are most likely to get caught if you use peer-to-peer file-sharing software (e.g. BitTorrent, emule, etc). This is because peer to peer works by you sharing the file with a whole lot of other people – if one of them works for the copyright-holders they can get enough information to make a complaint.
- Not getting caught. You are not likely to get caught if you copy files from friends, download from file-sharing websites (that don’t use torrent software), or watch videos on YouTube or similar sites.
- Notices. If caught infringing, you will initially receive a Detection Notice, followed by a Warning Notice, then an Enforcement Notice. There must be at least three weeks between notices. (Each copyright-holder making complaints will follow the same progression – you could have a Warning Notice from one and a Detection Notice from another).
- Challenging notices. You can respond with a challenge to any notice. The copyright-holder gets to decide whether your challenge will be accepted or not. There are no agreed grounds for challenges yet.
- Personal details. The copyright-holder will not be given your name, address and other contact details. All communication is handled by your internet provider.
- Copyright Tribunal. Once you have received an Enforcement Notice the matter will go to the Copyright Tribunal. They can levy of a penalty of up to $15,000 that has to be paid to the copyright-holder. They will normally make decisions based on written submissions, but either party can request a hearing. Lawyers are not allowed at the hearing.
- Account suspension. The provision in the law allowing for an internet account to be cut-off is currently suspended.