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New Zealand Legislature Mulls File-Sharing Bill 54

Posted by timothy
from the flee-to-australia-oh-wait dept.
bitserf writes from New Zealand: "Our overlords in government have decided to try and push through some file-sharing legislation. In the bill remains the controversial provisions for three-strikes removal of internet access, though interestingly, nothing prohibiting users from moving to other ISPs. Text of the bill can be found here. Interesting timing, considering ACTA negotiations due to be held in Wellington in April."
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New Zealand Legislature Mulls File-Sharing Bill

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  • by DigMarx (1487459) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @06:59AM (#31295934)

    As a recent immigrant to Auckland, I was actually surprised that there are so many companies to choose from. Not only ISPs but power and phone as well. Of course, I pay $80 NZ for a 25 gig monthly data cap with speeds up to 10-12 mbps, but off-peak hours are free...

  • by holloway (46404) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @07:37AM (#31296018) Homepage
    The NZ Herald article is really confused about the law and it talks about a protest on Monday but I'm from the Creative Freedom Foundation (quoted in the NZ Herald article linked in the story) and as there is no protest planned [creativefreedom.org.nz]. The original law that this replaced was a Guilt Upon Accusation-style law where unproven allegations of infringement could see people cut off the internet. We at the Creative Freedom Foundation (20,000 New Zealanders including 10,000 artists) protested against it. This new proposal is nothing like the original. It's a tribunal system where copyright law experts (such as people who helped set up Creative Commons NZ, and technology lawyers who are involved in DNS) will judge infringement. So people are innocent until proven guilty, and there are independent experts involved. The new extensions to New Zealand's Copyright Tribunal can only award fines, it can't kick people off the internet (that facility has been added to the courts, but court cases about copyright are rare in New Zealand). Personally I think the internet is an essential service that's only going to become more important in the coming years. We don't cut off people's power for copyright infringement, and we don't cut off phone lines or road access so the internet shouldn't be tampered with. It is however much better that it's in the courts and not in the tribunal because, in practice, it will be used rarely. The new branch of the Copyright Tribunal can award fines and the maximum they can award in the most extreme cases is $15k (US $10k) which is equal to that of New Zealand's Disputes Tribunal. Remember, this is a large scary figure for the infringement but this is the maximum and it's much less than the existing Copyright Act that New Zealand has. In practice it's still unclear how much the fine for infringement of a movie or a song will be. The new proposal doesn't seem to deal with open wireless access points that are provided as a public service in thousands of places in New Zealand (airports, municipal WiFi, libraries, etc.). It also isn't clear whether hacked computers are liable. I suspect not because there have been defenses where people who didn't authorise any infringement aren't liable (not just the recent Australian iiNet case, but NZ cases too). For the politicians involved doing nothing wasn't politically tenable and, so far, we generally support the new law's approach which is basically this new law is like a specialised court for copyright. Court cases can be flawed and certainly evidence can be maliciously faked, but that's the same of any court case. It does need more work around the areas I've mentioned above though and we'll be lobbying hard for that.
  • by holloway (46404) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @07:40AM (#31296024) Homepage

    (sorry, here's a formatted version. I should have used preview!)

    The NZ Herald article is really confused about the law and it talks about a protest on Monday but I'm from the Creative Freedom Foundation (quoted in the NZ Herald article linked in the story) and as there is no protest planned [creativefreedom.org.nz].

    The original law that this replaced was a Guilt Upon Accusation-style law where unproven allegations of infringement could see people cut off the internet. We at the Creative Freedom Foundation (20,000 New Zealanders including 10,000 artists) protested against it.

    This new proposal is nothing like the original. It's a tribunal system where copyright law experts (such as people who helped set up Creative Commons NZ, and technology lawyers who are involved in DNS) will judge infringement. So people are innocent until proven guilty, and there are independent experts involved.

    The new extensions to New Zealand's Copyright Tribunal can only award fines, it can't kick people off the internet (that facility has been added to the courts, but court cases about copyright are rare in New Zealand). Personally I think the internet is an essential service that's only going to become more important in the coming years. We don't cut off people's power for copyright infringement, and we don't cut off phone lines or road access so the internet shouldn't be tampered with. It is however much better that it's in the courts and not in the tribunal because, in practice, it will be used rarely.

    The new branch of the Copyright Tribunal can award fines and the maximum they can award in the most extreme cases is $15k (US $10k) which is equal to that of New Zealand's Disputes Tribunal. Remember, this is a large scary figure for the infringement but this is the maximum and it's much less than the existing Copyright Act that New Zealand has. In practice it's still unclear how much the fine for infringement of a movie or a song will be.

    The new proposal doesn't seem to deal with open wireless access points that are provided as a public service in thousands of places in New Zealand (airports, municipal WiFi, libraries, etc.).

    It also isn't clear whether hacked computers are liable. I suspect not because there have been defenses where people who didn't authorise any infringement aren't liable (not just the recent Australian iiNet case, but NZ cases too).

    For the politicians involved doing nothing wasn't politically tenable and, so far, we generally support the new law's approach which is basically this new law is like a specialised court for copyright. Court cases can be flawed and certainly evidence can be maliciously faked, but that's the same of any court case.

    It does need more work around the areas I've mentioned above though and we'll be lobbying hard for that. If anyone has any suggestions let me know, cheers.

  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @07:41AM (#31296028)

    Note that under this amended amendment a user's ISP access can only be cut off by court order. This is a far better process than was previously proposed.

    Would they cut of your telephone if your kid used it to harass someone? No. Buy drugs? No. Hire a hitman? No. But they want to cut off your internet connection if he downloads some MP3s.

    And lets not forget the ISPs. They now have a huge task to monitor and store large volumes of data for no benefit to them or their customers. They might lose business because people won't need their all-you-can-eat plans any more, because they stopped downloading DVDs. More importantly for the public, this makes it easier to later implement filtering, do traffic analysis, etc. This seems to tie in nicely with the "optional" ISP-level filtering coming in a few months [nbr.co.nz].

    Incidentally, The Pirate Party [pirateparty.org.nz] is starting to happen in NZ now. Well timed.

  • by holloway (46404) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @08:00AM (#31296062) Homepage

    What does NZ produce to make any of this worth while?

    Well we did most of the graphics for Avatar and all of the graphics for the Lord of the Rings movies. The copyright for those is, as I understand it, partly owned by New Zealanders.

    We don't tend to have many successful international music artists though (Crowded House, The Datsuns etc. were a while ago now).

    Oh yeah and the Flight of the Conchords doing computer songs [youtube.com].

    Could I just make bogus claims that somebody had pirated something of mine and have them banned?

    No, you'd have to prove it in the tribunal or in a court.

    What are the consiquences of a neighbour downloading something off your wireless AP?

    It's unclear what happens to open wireless points under the new law. I suspect that people won't be responsible if they didn't authorise the infringement because there have been defenses like that before (not just the recent Australian iiNet case, but NZ cases too).

    What about business connections where a potentialy large group is sharing a single connection?

    A good way of thinking about this is to consider the business to be an ISP itself that connects to an ISP. Basically the ISPs pass the buck down the chain until it reaches a customer, so the business would be expected to identify the individual who did it.

    This does mean that there may be significant business compliance costs involved in recording who used a public IP address at a particular time. We've asked the government for estimates, and we're working with several groups to get independent estimates for this.

    And who exactly was behind this sudden interest in protecting what really is a majority of overseas owned copywrite?

    To a large degree it was probably the US and Japan via ACTA.

  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:16AM (#31296472) Homepage Journal

    For the Kiwis, there's also the proposed software patents bill in New Zealand [swpat.org]. It's set to be discussed again in, IIRC, March (the page that had the status is 404ing now - I should have mirrored it up). I'll go search for a new source to confirm the status and timeline and will update the wiki.

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