Copyright Bill has Second Reading in Parliament

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill is due to have its second reading in Parliament today. The item has been due to go through the house for a while now, but has been fairly low on the list. We are surprised to find out that it is being rushed through under urgency, and we’re not alone, MPs who have been involved in the process are surprised as well.

One major thing to note is that the second reading is accompanied by a Supplementary Order Paper proposing an amendment to the bill. These include delaying the commencement of the bill to 1 September 2011 (formerly 1 July 2011) and what appears to be a presumption in favour of the Rights Holder, whereby initial accusations don’t need to be accompanied by evidence.

As at 5.30pm today the item has not yet been discussed, however we’re watching! Watch this space…


14 April 2011. The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill passed into law this morning. From our perspective, while this law is a massive improvement on its predecessor s92A, there are still a number of issues with the law that mean it is a “compromised” piece of legislation – as Labour MP Claire Curran put it.

Our major issues with the law are:

1/ There’s a lack of guidance around the fines of up to $15,000
Overseas we’ve seen cases where exorbitant fines have been dished out for very small infringements, such as the US$1.5 million charged for Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s infringement of 24 songs. Will New Zealanders face charges of $15,000 for infringing just one song?

2/ There’s still a presumption of guilt
Accusers are not required to front up with evidence against the person they are accusing. A University of Southern California report on US copyright infringement found that businesses targeting competitors account for more than half (57%) of all claims, with over one third (37%) of these not standing up to court scrutiny. In New Zealand Judge David Harvey has noted that 30% of copyright litigation fails due to a failure to prove ownership of copyright, or due to the copyright in question not being governed by New Zealand law. Without the support of evidence, this reversal of the burden of proof could be a big waste of time for a lot of people.

3/ Internet termination is lingering in the background
While currently disabled this penalty could come in to effect overnight at the whim of the government – without public consultation and without parliamentary vote. We are fundamentally opposed to internet termination. We always have been, and we always will be. The internet is an essential tool for connecting with, and participating in society. With the majority of internet connections in New Zealand being shared this penalty will inevitably punish many people for the actions of one, removing their ability to work, communicate, bank, shop, learn. Internet termination should NEVER be an option.


Internet file-sharing law to pass tonight – NZ Herald

Govt’s ‘Skynet’ legislation becomes law - 3News

Copyright Amendment Act ALSO rushed through parliament - 95bFM

Online protests over controversial copyright law - TVNZ One News

New Zealand passes ‘three-strikes’ law – it News

20 thoughts on “Copyright Bill has Second Reading in Parliament

  1. While as a record label and as a musician I completely support anti piracy laws, I don’t agree that the NZ Govt, RIANZ and APRA have gone about implementing the protection of copyright with the appropriate level of consultation with the NZ voting public or in fact with their full memberships.

    Therefore, this legislation which is being covertly pushed through under urgency, is a clear breach of the greater public trust and does not represent the wholesale interests of the memberships; but rather the will of individuals leading corporate organisations. These individuals largely represent the interests of trans-national corporations. They do not necessarily represent the interests of artists and individuals. In fact there is no autonomous or independent body active in NZ that represents artists interests. All existing organisations have one or several members who are inherently tied to commercial operations which represents a conflict of interest. The level of conflict of interest has never been audited and is not subject to public scrutiny or accountability in the current funding processes.

    No right of commerce can be allowed to undermine the human rights act, the constitutional rights of New Zealanders or our democracy.

  2. Is someone paying someone to dig stuff like this out and pass it within a few hours? That’s the only reason that I could think of.

  3. sounds corrupt to me i suppose i shouldnt be surprise big corporations rule the world now money talks. There is no freedom anymore

  4. I agree with Glyn,

    There seems to be a growing number of legislation being passed in this “covert” manner. The same thing happened with the new anti smoking laws, rush it through so noone has a chance to complain about it. Seems like theyre all acting like a bunch of misinformed parents if you ask me. This is NOT resolving things in a democratic manner.

  5. Bravo, Glyn! Well said.

    I too am a writer and artist, and I strongly oppose piracy. But the piracy I object to is *commercial* unauthorised exploitation of my work.

    Some kid in Invercargill sharing my books through The Pirate Bay is hardly an emergency and certainly doesn’t justify this kind of ill-considered unfair law.

  6. What the government had done here is pass empowering legislation for free trade and investment agreement which it is negotiating with the US and a few other countries – the TransPacific Partnership – in advance of signing the agreement! So we get the crap law to keep the American corporations happy even if the TPP never happens.

    Vote Green in 2011 to stop this nonsense!

  7. I wonder if this has been rammed though under urgency to satisfy the One or more of the requirements of ACTA. I wonder if the Government is going to make a surprise rollover on their stance towards ACTA and the TPPA. Given some of the comments from the House on the nature of Copyright and the Internet, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Government did an about-face. Of course they will try to justify it by saying crap like ‘the US helped us out with Chch – we need to help them out with this’.

    Given they have used the urgency of the Chch Earthquake to ram this completely unrelated legislation through, I have absolutely no trust in our Government. Not that I really had it to begin with.

  8. This is the most outrages thing. They can’t just bring something up like this and pass it as law. NZ Government is getting more and more corrupted and clearly this is a communist act. What does it have to do with Christchurch??

    I vote for a huge protest to overrun the government and their nonsense, they’ve crossed the line!!

  9. my argument with this is RIANZ dictate what we are and are not alowed to listen to (i am sick of top 40). I am a huge fan of Electronica, K-POP (korean) and J-POP (japanese) music. but i dont see them investing our even offing a outlet for new zealanders to buy this stuff. i am left with no choice but to down load it. and if by any chance that i come across it in a shop (which is rare. i buy it. even if that means i miss 2 meals to get it i do) and with the lack of cd stores around now it has just become harder. infact i was in Marbecks today buying a My Morning Jacket album (which i wouldn’t have known them if i hadn’t download a song of theirs) and the manager was saying it will make his business harder now as people wont but the od ball stuff anymore like what i just bought. and he see that entire sector of his business disapering. which it is a shame because he trys his best to get in the stuff for people to buy. which people will now no longer discover. and to that i am disappointed. they (RIANZ) go out and chase there consumer away, when all we want is the selection in our stores to buy. they have left use with no choice but to download. i refer cd quality of download, thats why i try my best to find it. but with no credit card. it is a lot hard for me and i dont see why i need to have one to get the music i like!

  10. We should do as was done in the U.K recently and pack these tribunals with hundreds of people so they just cannot operate.Civil disobedience may be our only option to stop this corruption of our soveriegnty and policy by US interests.

  11. Veryangryperson said:
    ” . .NZ Government is getting more and more corrupted and clearly this is a communist act. . . .”

    Wouldn’t ‘Fascist’ be a more appropriate description ?
    Next election, don’t vote. Same monster – different heads

  12. So WHAT can be done about it? IF our government is completely ignoring the people and passing whatever laws it pleases (whether that is the case here or not), what exactly can be done about it? Or are we heading for a completely new style of government, ruled by the rulers and not by the people?

  13. I was shocked to learn today that this new internet copyright law has passed all stages. At first I thought it was a joke or some late April fools day prank.

    I used to think that National was ok but we have started to a see a trend where laws that benefit corporate interests are rushed through but laws to protect ordinary citizens such as a builders guarantee on new housing seem to take forever.

    National has definitely gone too far its, time to vote them out!.


    As people increasingly rely on the Internet to deliver downloadable music, movies, and television, content producers are faced with the problem of increasing Internet piracy. To protect their content, copyright holders police the Internet, searching for unauthorized distribution of their work on websites like YouTube or peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent. When infringement is (allegedly) discovered, formal complaints are issued to network operators that may result in websites being taken down or home Internet connections being disabled.

    Although the implications of being accused of copyright infringement are significant, very little is known about the methods used by enforcement agencies to detect it, particularly in P2P networks. We have conducted the first scientific, experimental study of monitoring and copyright enforcement on P2P networks and have made several discoveries which we find surprising.

    Practically any Internet user can be framed for copyright infringement today.
    By profiling copyright enforcement in the popular BitTorrent file sharing system, we were able to generate hundreds of real DMCA takedown notices for computers at the University of Washington that never downloaded nor shared any content whatsoever.
    Further, we were able to remotely generate complaints for nonsense devices including several printers and a (non-NAT) wireless access point. Our results demonstrate several simple techniques that a malicious user could use to frame arbitrary network endpoints.

    Even without being explicitly framed, innocent users may still receive complaints.
    Because of the inconclusive techniques used to identify infringing BitTorrent users, users may receive DMCA complaints even if they have not been explicitly framed by a malicious user and even if they have never used P2P software!
    Software packages designed to preserve the privacy of P2P users are not completely effective.
    To avoid DMCA complaints today, many privacy conscious users employ IP blacklisting software designed to avoid communication with monitoring and enforcement agencies. We find that this software often fails to identify many likely monitoring agents, but we also discover that these agents exhibit characteristics that make distinguishing them straightforward.

  15. Hey guys, I am absolutely mega pissed at what national has done here. I was at the protest last time, and have been really impressed about your involvement with this issue.

    I’m glad that you have (finally) got this page up, and I’m sure when you’ve had a chance to react that more information will be forthcoming. The fact that no one has had time to prepare for this is one of the most irritating aspects to this law change.

    I am a computer geek and I want to help, If you need web development programming or just a chat with someone who has read the law and understands the technical aspects of it email me. I also have 2 domains up and running that can be used for whatever is needed:


  16. I emailed all MPs an open letter challenging this. Clare Curran, Dunedin South MP, responded. Here is my reply to her:

    Dear Clare,

    > Thank you for your letter. I am responding to you as Labour’s spokesperson for communications and IT on behalf of the Labour caucus.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    > Firstly I should make it clear that Labour supported the Copyright Law because it had been significantly amended

    The tactic being used here is obvious. If they demand something ridiculous, then you compromise, they end up with what they really wanted. This law should have been fought with the full strength of the Labour party, who claim to represent the PEOPLE of this country. This law is a blatant, disrespectful spit in the face of privacy and justice.

    > While the remaining stages of the Copyright Bill were passed under urgency

    Precisely. Yet another show of clear disrespect for “the system”, the Christchurch earthquake and New Zealanders in general. WE WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS BEHAVIOUR FROM OUR LEADERS. You, Clare Curran, representative to government for the electorate in which I live, have a duty to be our voice. We do not accept this. You must not accept this.

    > and we referred back a better bill than the one that was introduced.

    How on Earth is that an acceptable outcome?? Compromise? If somebody brings forward a bill that proposes murder be made legal, and you respond with a bill that says only if the murder happens in the victim’s home, HOW is that acceptable? This copyright bill is a blatant infringement on our rights and sets a wicked precedent that will be used in the future not only to allow other bills involving “guilt upon accusation” to pass through, but to ensure the complete eradication of privacy altogether. We, as New Zealanders, do not want this and we demand from you, our representative, that you do not allow it.

    > Although it would have been better to pass the Bill through its remaining stages over several days instead of via an urgency motion we do not believe this was a constitutional outrage.

    We, the people you represent, do.

    > We did not get everything we wanted. And the Bill still retains flaws.

    So why did Labour support it?

    > But being in Opposition isn’t always about opposing.

    We are not demanding you oppose everything. We are demanding you oppose this “copyright bill”, which is a blatant infringement on our human rights, and the way in which it was covertly rushed through the system.

    > The onus is now on the creative industries to prove there is a case to terminate access and that the notice system is not working.

    And how can this be done without breaking a victim’s right to privacy? What happens if a victim’s IP address is spoofed? If I sent a letter-bomb to the Beehive with a return address of my enemy, would it be right for my enemy to be held accountable? (No, I’m not actually going to send a letter-bomb!)

    > Rather than oppose it outright, we preferred to compromise to ensure New Zealanders are not denied access to the internet.

    I don’t understand. You say the disconnection clause was left in as a compromise. How does this “ensure New Zealanders are not denied access to the internet”? Because you chose to not “oppose it outright”, the clause is now law and the potential for New Zealanders to be denied internet access is very real. If you HAD opposed it outright, there would have been at least a fighting chance that the clause would NOT be law and the second half of your statement would be correct. Please explain.

    > Labour acknowledges your concerns about Section 122MA of the Copyright Act: when an account holder receives an infringement notice, the burden is placed on them to prove that they did not in fact infringe a copyright. Some submitters raised concerns about this at select committee and we sought further talks with the government.
    The government agreed to amend the clause and ensure that once a notice was received and where the Copyright Tribunal process was triggered that all the account holder had to do was to respond and challenge the notice.

    Does this, coupled with our right to privacy, not make the entire bill a moot point? If all a victim must do is challenge an accusation, what is the point? If the accuser must then provide evidence which cannot be gained without breaking the victim’s right to privacy, what IS the point? All this does is swing the door wide open for abusers of privacy and set the aforementioned dangerous precedent.

    Anybody who supports this bill clearly does not have a proper understanding of the technology. I assume they believe anybody in opposition is a pirate trying to maintain their free reign on other peoples copyrighted materials. We are not advocating piracy by challenging this bill. It is clear that something needs to be done about the ridiculous amount of IP theft that has become rife thanks to the exponential growth of the internet, but disrespecting people’s right to privacy and creating such a huge possibility for abuse is unequivocally NOT the right way to go about it.

    As a side not, what is being done about the ISPs of New Zealand profiting from piracy? They charge for data usage through the networks by the megabyte/gigabyte, which clearly shows they make money proportional to the amount of piracy on their networks. Why are they not being held accountable? People have shown (or claimed) statistics that upwards of 40% of data transmitted across the internet is pirated music/movies etc. The ISPs are (covertly) making a killing!

    Thank you for taking the time to consider the point of view of the New Zealand people. I look forward to your reply, and greatly anticipate hearing you speak at the “MayDay” protest in the Octagon at 12 noon this Sunday 1st May.

    Alex McMillan

  17. What will happen if there is a massive over load of illegal activity and there is not enough court time for half the country?

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