Controversial internet file-sharing law passed

Last updated 11:55 14/04/2011
Parliament TV

Jonathan Young talks about Skynet.

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A bill that could see internet users have their access cut off if they repeatedly share copyright material has been passed by Parliament.

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill, which aims to stamp out internet piracy, passed by 111 votes to 11 this morning.

It was supported by all parties except the Greens and independent MPs Chris Carter and Hone Harawira.

Fierce protest erupted last night as the Government used urgency to rush the bill through its final stages.

Opponents took to social media sites such as Twitter to revive the 2009 "blackout" protest that brought about the redrafting of the controversial illegal-file-sharing legislation.

The new law would allow copyright owners to ask for a six-month suspension of the internet accounts of those who repeatedly infringe by sharing protected material.

"Online copyright infringement has been damaging for the creative industry, which has experienced significant declines in revenue as file sharing has become more prevalent," said Commerce Minister Simon Power.

"This legislation will discourage illegal file sharing and provide more effective measures to help our creative industries enforce their copyright."

WHAT THE NEW LAW MEANS

* Establishes a 'three strikes' regime to stamp out illegal file-sharing.

* Copyright owners notify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that someone is downloading material, such as films or video, without paying for it, through file-sharing.

* ISPs send warning notices to those customers telling them they may have infringed copyright.

* After three warnings, if the user does not stop, the copyright owner can take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal.

* The tribunal now has the power in impose a maximum $15,000 penalty on the internet account holder.

* However, after two years, if the new regime is not working - and a large number of people are still illegally downloading, then the Commerce Minister can introduce a tougher regime which could lead to the suspension of accounts.

* This would see the tribunal refer serious cases to the district court, who would have the power to order a six month suspension.

* The regime comes into force on September 1. The law does not apply to cellphone networks until 2013.

ONLINE REACTION

Twitter users stayed up to watch the bill be debated via Parliament TV last night.

MPs were criticised for their lack of understanding on file sharing and internet basics including New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young, who compared the internet to Skynet, the fictional artificial intelligence network from the Terminator movies.

"Oh no, Skynet references in Parliament," tweeted Chris Macr (@macrodubplates).

"WTF is this NZ MP wittering on about ... Internet = Skynet ... oh lordy lord," wrote Mike Riversdale (@MiramarMike). 

Others were disgusted at what they perceived as the Government using urgency to rush the bill through.

"The National Party clearly cannot be trusted: using #eqnz as a smokescreen to push through ideological legislation is evil. SHAME!" said Amanda Peet (@kiwinerd)

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"Tonight I am disgusted in our government and in both major parties," wrote Keri Henare (@KeriHenare).

Many more used the medium to express their opinions on why they thought the bill was wrong:

Ben Gracewood (@nzben) said:  "Blocking internet because of piracy is like revoking a driver's license due to burglary."

AndHow Web Radio (@andhowfm) wrote: " [It's] Draconian. Where will it end?"

And Andrew McKenzie (@AMcKenzieWriter) wrote: "Entitlement because you are a fan simply doesn't carry. I like chocolate, can I steal as much Cadbury as I like? No."

- By MARTIN KAY and ANDREA VANCE/Stuff

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