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
Online protests over controversial copyright law - TVNZ One News
New Zealand passes ‘three-strikes’ law – it News