As the music and movie industries tour the world lobbying for changes in the law in an attempt to slow down online piracy, New Zealand’s legislation moves a step closer to becoming law. The Copyright (Infringement File Sharing) Amendment Bill, which allows for large fines and six month Internet suspensions, has just received its first reading in Parliament, to unanimous support.
Back in 2008 the New Zealand Government proposed the introduction of new law to combat illicit file-sharing. Section 92A was immediately the subject of protest from several corners which led the Government to go back to the drawing board.
Commerce Minister Simon Power later introduced The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill which replaced the earlier proposals with a modified regime to deal with illegal file sharing.
In common with efforts by the entertainment industries to change the law around the globe, the major feature of the Bill is a so-called “3 Strikes” regime which will enable copyright owners to claim damages and make requests to the District Court for infringers to be disconnected from the Internet for up to six months.
The Bill will extend the jurisdiction of the country’s Copyright Tribunal, which will hear both sides – rightsholders and file-sharers – and will be empowered to rule on cases of alleged infringement.
Yesterday the Bill, which will also allow fines of up to $15,000 ($10,500 US) to be handed down to file-sharers, received its first reading in Parliament.
It received unanimous support.
“The Copyright (Infringement File Sharing) Amendment Bill sets up a fair and balanced process to deal with online copyright infringements,” said Commerce Minister Simon Power in a statement.
“The three-notice process ensures that file sharers are given adequate warnings that unauthorised sharing of copyright works is illegal, at the same time as providing effective methods for copyright owners to enforce their rights,” he added.
The Bill has now been referred to the Commerce Select Committee and will report back to Parliament in six months.