Copyright Act – Is the NZ Govenment supporting a dying model?

The pending copyright act is causing many to grumble in New Zealand with the government since the release of it’s guidelines for enforcement of the Copyright Act. The act is based on a business model that even the US studios themselves readily admit is on the way out, and being replaced by online on-demand services like Hulu and Netflix.

On the one hand, there’s still the spectre of disconnection from the internet should your account be deemed to have infringed on copyright material three times. On the other, the cost of sending out the notice of infringement that the rights holders must pay has been set at $25 per notice, which should curb the more vigorous among them.

In addition there’s a list of 13 requirements these notices must include for the ISP to take them seriously. This list includes New Zealand contact details for the rights holders, IP address of the alleged offender, identification of the software used to offend, a signed statement identifying the rights holder as being the actual rights holder and the time and date (down to the second) of the alleged offence.

Globally there have been unscrupulous lawyers filing thousands of these notices without the legal right to do so, and we’ve seen companies spamming competitors with them just to tie them up in legal knots for a while.

These kinds of practices hopefully won’t happen here, and having a reasonable price for each notice means we won’t end up like the French where tens of thousands of notices are sent each month.

But the $25 price point is still well shy of the price some ISPs quoted. Those smaller players will be doing all of the investigations manually and that means cost – cost which will ultimately be borne by the customers.

On top of that, as business managers you’ll also be shouldering an increased cost of compliance. You’ll have to revisit your HR policies regarding this kind of thing, you’ll have to look at your security processes and firewalls to see whether or not you can identify an individual user on the network. If you have open internet access for customers or clients you’ll have to work out whether or not you continue to offer the service. While some of you will no doubt have these processes in place, smaller businesses may not be willing nor able to pay the cost and so will simply close down access and that’s a bad thing in my view, far outweighing the benefits of having this kind of regulatory regime in place.

The ISPs were supposed to get 6 to 12 months’ notice – instead they have only a handful of weeks in which to get their houses in order. It will take time for them to build the processes and implement systems, hire and train the staff and ensure that when they identify an alleged offender, they’ve got the right person.

The big concern and implication is that say an employee downloads a piece of content that an owner alledges they should not have, and they do it from their office computer (on your IP address) then there is a high risk of your company loosing its connection to the internet.

Another case of meddling by a Government struggling to stay relevant. Incidentally the USA offered to write the NZ Copyright laws…go figure !

Opinions are that of the poster, and not AucklandICT.
Content provided from TUANZ.

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