After New Zealand’s previous Labour government failed in its attempts to set up a code of practice to deal with copyright infringements via section 92a of the Copyright Act, new proposals were revealed.
ISPs wouldn’t be expected to play copyright cops, but instead decisions about disconnections under a 3 strikes regime would be made by the Copyright Tribunal, which would give those wrongly accused a chance to put their side of the story. This was generally accepted as a fairer way of going about the issue.
However, the Federation Against Copyright Theft has indicated that it is unhappy with the proposals and would prefer a “streamlined” process of justice, which would mean people could be disconnected without the full hearing in front of an independent body as suggested by the Economic Development Ministry.
FACT director Tony Eaton says that his organization doesn’t have a problem with judicial process – as long as it’s on their terms.
“The concern is that we send out 1000 infringement notices, and then someone says, `The way to stall this is let’s all go to arbitration’, and a year later we could still be going through that same process,” Eaton said.
“Do we get to the point where we have 1000 cases to be heard by the Copyright Tribunal? If everyone brings their lawyer, we will only do five in a day,” he added.
By anyone’s measurement, even given the lack of accuracy inherent in some anti-piracy evidence, 100% error rate and 100% appeals is a little pessimistic to say the least and to suggest everyone would bring a lawyer is absurd – the cost would be hugely prohibitive. Nevertheless, Mr Eaton said he would prefer to be able to present evidence in bulk to the tribunal – in search of corresponding disconnections in bulk, no doubt.
The discussion document for the amended Section 92a was open for submissions until August 7 and according to Ministry of Economic Development spokesman Joshua Herron, many of those submissions show opposition to disconnecting people from the Internet, period.
InternetNZ, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the Internet, said it is “absolutely opposed to the inclusion of termination of Internet accounts as a penalty for copyright infringement.”