The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act is due to be reviewed in March 2012. This is an opportunity for the government to fix these three issues with the law as it stands:
1. Termination remains: can be enabled by Cabinet at any time without parliamentary vote.
When the Act was introduced in 2011 Internet Termination was left lurking in the background: able to be activated by Cabinet without a parliamentary vote. The internet is an essential tool for connecting with, and participating in society. We don’t terminate phone lines or letter boxes if one person in a household uses them to break the law. 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 and causing a backlash against the artists that this law is supposed to be protecting. Internet termination is an inventive and harmful approach that should NEVER be an option.
2. No penalty for false accusations
There have already been notices that don’t comply with the regulations. These notices didn’t even provide enough information to corroborate whether an infringement took place. It’s very difficult to prove innocence under the new law.
3. A lack of guidance on the scaling of fines 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?
There is no incentive for rights holders to provide NZ with content in a timely fashion. We’re still waiting far longer than the rest of the world to get films and tv series here, even though we read about them, watch the trailers online, and even see them winning the Academy Award (like in the case of the Hurt Locker).
This is a huge publicly subsidised litigation costs for the content industry (primarily large US film and music companies). The regulatory impact statement says this has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars so far.
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