A select committee, looking to address concerns around illegal file-sharing online, has said that the controversial Section 92A, which was drafted by the previous Labour government, needs to be changed.
The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill, which replaces 92A, authorises ISPs to send warning notices to their customers informing them they have infringed copyright, and extends the jurisdiction of the Copyright Tribunal to provide a fast-track, low-cost process to hear illegal file sharing claims. The tribunal will also be able to award penalties of up to $15,000 based on damages sustained by the copyright owner.
The bill will also include the power for a District Court to suspend internet accounts for up to six months. The committee has recommended that this power be included in the Copyright Act but not brought into force unless the notice process and the remedies in the Copyright Tribunal are ineffective.
The Creative Freedom Foundation (creativefreedom.org.nz) is critical of the new bill, saying that it is "disappointed to see that Internet Termination is still making an appearance, and there is an alarming return to the Guilt Upon Accusation”.
CFF Director Bronwyn Holloway-Smith said that "[r]ather than the presumption of innocence, there is a presumption of guilt under section 122MA. This is exacerbated by the lack of any sanction for false or malicious accusations, making the process ripe for abuse”.
InternetNZ (www.internetnz.net.nz) Chief Executive Vikram Kumar says that while the bill is an improvement on the former 92A legislation, it still raises some concerns.
"We would have preferred no remedy of account suspension being included in the legislation,” says Kumar.
"The decision to leave it in but not commence its application is a second best option, but is far better than the current law, and better than the initial draft.
"There will need to be independent and credible monitoring of levels of infringement, and we look forward to discussing how this can be done with Government.
"Clearly, interested parties such as rights holders or their representatives cannot be the source of data that could lead to account suspension being implemented, as this would be an obvious case of self-dealing and very poor policy practice.”