What you need to know about the new copyright law

Parliament has passed the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Act.

Here’s 10 things that you need to know about it:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. Personal details. The copyright-holder will not be given your name, address and other contact details. All communication is handled by your internet provider.
  9. 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.
  10. Account suspension. The provision in the law allowing for an internet account to be cut-off is currently suspended.

41 thoughts on “What you need to know about the new copyright law”

  1. 4) should probably be ‘peer to peer style software’ — not just BitTorrent but any software that works in a similar way, bearshare, frostwire, emule …

  2. It’s possible that a site like RapidShare could be forced to reveal its logs, though.

    Also, is a rightsholder required to go through the process of
    infringement/notice/infringement/notice/infringement/final notice

    or could they go

    infringement/infringement/infringement/notice/notice/final notice

    so one only knew when they already had 3 infringements in the bag, so to speak.

    1. A rightsholder sends notices to the IPAP (ISP) who does the actual matching between complaint and IP address/account holder.

      The IPAP then work out whether that particular rightsholder has already sent one to that account holder and decides what notice to send. First one is a detection notice, second is a warning notice, third is an enforcement notice.

      So, the order is detection/warning/enforcement – and then it’s off to the Copyright Tribunal. Three strikes and you’re down up to $15k.

      There is a period between a notice being sent and the next one – there’s a minimum three week gap.

      And yes, a file sharing site could be forced by a court order to reveal its logs in which case the copyright holders could come after the people downloading. I was trying to keep it reasonably simple. :)

      1. It’s trivially easy and costs nothing to collect IP addresses by running a p2p client, many orders of magnitude harder to get logs from file-sharing sites, and perhaps just as easy to have those sites closed down entirely. I would expect close to 100% of all future infringement notices will come from p2p activity alone, even considering changes overseas such as the protect-ip act.

        1. There are interesting legal ramifications to finding infringers via running a p2p client, eg. with BitTorrent if you’re connected for more than a matter of seconds, you’ll be sharing the file yourself – and if you’re sharing you’re giving people permission to download it from you…

          1. Interesting… I look forward to finding out what happens when challenging a noticed based on the fact that to detect downloading the associated company’s had to put the content up for download (which was at the request/agreement of the rights owner) and in doing so negated any illegality of downloading it.

  3. What processes/safeguards are in place to ensure that the ‘evidence’ presented by rightsholders is collected correctly(correct time to start) – and is indeed conclusive?

    1. There is none – although the recommended regulations are now requiring rights holders to include a statement that the info is true to the best of their knowledge.

      Basically it’s up to the account holder to somehow prove that they didn’t do what they’ve been accused of doing.

      1. So – rightsholders evidence is backed up by a statement … surely it’s only equitable that the defence could be based on a statement. Of course it won’t work like that though :)

  4. “Each copyright-holder making complaints will follow the same progression – you could have a Warning Notice from one and a Detection Notice from another.”

    Is that definitely how it’s going to work? I was wondering about this recently, and this is the only place I’ve seen it explained.

    1. Yes, this is the relevant bit from section 122E about sending a warning notice:

      “An IPAP must issue a warning notice in relation to a rights owner to an account holder if the infringement occurred at least 28 days after the date of a detection notice issued to the account holder in relation to the same rights owner, but before that detection notice expires.”

      Those words “the same rights owner” are the important ones.

  5. If we get a warning, how long until they are reset? Or are they linked to us for the rest of our lives? I have the internet account for the flat and am worried if somebody does something, I’ll get a warning. Then it happens again in 5 years and then somehow again another 5 years after that….

  6. Does this affect those videos from wupload, filesonic, uploading, uploadstation, megaupload & fileserve etc…?

    1. It depends. Some people think that the law is only applicable to P2P file sharing. Others think it is more general.

      However, in the case of all those types of services, the only way you can find out who is downloading is by getting the information from the people who run the service.

  7. Does a warning notice pertain to a single item of copyright infringement, like say, a single file like an episode of a series or does it pertain to a copyrighted work like say a TV series os a specific name and any part of that series constitutes an infringement or does it pertain to a single copyright holder and infringing on copyright of that particular copyright owner but for different works constitute ongoing infringements?

    And what is there to stop false accusations of IPs? I mean, they’re just digital records – there’s actually no way of verifying that they are in fact real.

    1. A notice would be for a single work. There is a 28 day period between notices for a particular rights holder, so there can be no “stacking” of notices and sending them all at once.

      There is nothing to stop false accusations. There are also no penalties for being caught making a false accusation. The potential for ‘hacking the system’ by making false accusations is left as an exercise for the reader.

  8. say you downloaded a tv program from the US that someone had recorded and then uploaded to the net, you then downloaded it. Would this be classed as an infringement of the copyright law?

    1. Music is also covered by copyright, so the law could also be used against people using P2P file sharing to download copyrighted music without permission.

      1. but what happen if you dont use p2p file sharing and just download it straight from the webstie?

        1. There is some debate about whether the new law is only for P2P or can be used for straight downloading as well.

          However, being caught for P2P is easier. To be caught for downloading straight from a website, the operators of the website would have to tell on you.

    1. Hi, P2P is a way of getting a file, not the type of file.

      P2P stands for peer-to-peer and describes a technique used to download a file from the net using a torrent or other form of peer-to-peer file sharing. You need a special piece of software to use it.

      If you’re downloading from YouTube or other similar sites through your web browser like Internet Explorer, you’re not using P2P file sharing.

  9. Is it one notice for each song or 1 for the 28 days and would a youtube to mp3 be traceable?

    1. It’s a notice for each infringement – but there have to be at least 28 days between notices.

      Youtube isn’t traceable unless Youtube themselves cough up the info.

  10. if someone downloads like say half a movie through utorrent will they receive a detection notice?

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