Copyright change creates few ripples

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Fears that new copyright legislation would result in a rash of demands for Internet service providers to take down websites appear to have so far proved unfounded.

Section 92C of the Copyright Act, which came into force at the beginning of the month, makes providers liable for copyright infringements by websites they host – unless they act "as soon as possible" to block or delete access to the material on receiving an infringement notice from a copyright holder.

TelstraClear, which has been vehement in its opposition to the clause, said it would have no alternative but to take down customers' websites without investigating whether infringement notices were valid, to avoid liability for copyright violations.

Spokesman Chris Mirams said it had not yet received any infringement notices.

Telecommunications Carriers Forum executive director Ralph Chivers was unaware of any notices being issued against its members as a result of the act.

"I haven't heard any feedback from members at this point about any particular issues or problems. The absence of screaming would suggest there is not an immediate problem."

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InternetNZ spokesman Campbell Gardiner said providers regularly received take-down notices from overseas, however.

Mr Chivers was unsure whether anyone who issued an infringement notice that falsely claimed a website breached their copyright might open themselves up to a defamation action, and whether this might mitigate against frivolous complaints.

The Telecommunications Carriers Forum would continue developing a code of practice that would set out the circumstances in which providers should terminate the accounts of repeat copyright violators, as required by Section 92A of the act which is due to come into force at the end of February.

National has said it is open to a "complete review" of copyright legislation and there is speculation it may intervene to stop 92A taking effect.

But Mr Chivers said the present situation was that the clause would become law.

"We are obviously quite keen to have a chat with the incoming government about their perspective on it," Mr Chivers said.

The Dominion Post