Select Committee Report on Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill [NZ] Just Released

After the earlier hearings, the Commerce Select Committee have now reported back on the draft Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill [PDF]. They have recommended that Internet Termination be temporarily disabled until it’s deemed necessary which is a slight improvement on the previous bill that had termination as an available penalty. Internet Termination itself remains problematic: we don’t cut off people’s access to the postal system, or phonelines if they’re used to break the law. Most internet accounts are shared, and Internet Termination will affect many people for the actions of one. Because there are no government statistics about infringing inter net downloading in New Zealand any decision to enable termination would be based on lobbying, not independent government research, and Internet Termination could be enabled in cabinet without a vote in parliament. Commerce Committee member Clare Curran explains the reasoning behind this.

An alarming addition to the bill is a return to Guilt Upon Accusation, with a clearly defined presumption of guilt under section 122MA. While the report recommends the requirement of a high-quality of evidence, it is unclear what’s considered as appropriate evidence. Often the methods of copyright infringement detection are considered a trade secret and the software is, ironically, protected by copyright and not available even to the court. This is exacerbated by the continued lack of any sanction for false or malicious accusations, making the process ripe for abuse. Read More

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