NZ copyright Act may drag ISPs into disputes

Last updated 08:06 14/04/2008

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InternetNZ fears Internet service providers will be dragged into dozens of disputes every day over who owns copyright to material posted on homepages and websites they host.

An amendment to the Copyright Act passed by Parliament last week means that if ISPs do not delete material stored or cached on their servers once they have reason to believe it may breach copyright, then they themselves will be liable.

Executive director Keith Davidson says that, as an example of the situation in which ISPs may find themselves, an ISP might be obliged to take down a home video of children skateboarding to background music of the Beach Boys.

He says that, though many breaches of copyright are clearcut, ISPs have to mediate in a variety of disputes.

Courts, when called on to decide whether an ISP had acted reasonably on a complaint, would have to take into account whether ISPs had received an infringement notice from a copyright owner.

Mr Davidson says the regime is "disappointing".

InternetNZ argued that ISPs should only have to pass any complaints from copyright owners on to the customer alleged to have posted the material.

He says it is unclear whether social networking sites and other businesses that let people upload information directly to websites will be governed by the same regime, or whether they could be held liable for breaches of copyright even if they had no reason to believe they were hosting offending material.

Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard says the terms of the Copyright Act, including the amendments just passed, will be subject to an "ongoing review" which could lead to more changes.

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- The Dominion Post

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