New Zealand's stupid copyright law dies

New Zealand's stupid new copyright law that would cost you your Internet connection if you were accused of copyright infringement three times (without proof of any wrongdoing) is officially dead. Massive, global interest in the law, as well as a series of savvy Internet- and meatspace-protests convinced the government to climb down off the ledge that the American movie and music companies had lured it onto.
"Allowing section 92A to come into force in its current format would not be appropriate given the level of uncertainty around its operation," said Commerce Minister Simon Power in a statement. "These discussions have exposed some aspects of section 92A which require further consideration. While the government remains intent on tackling this problem, the legislation itself needs to be re-examined and reworked to address concerns held by stakeholders and the government..."

Users and ISPs were most concerned that the rules would apparently disconnect even huge businesses after a few employees downloaded illicit files. A high-profile judge raised concerns that the procedure could run afoul of contract law in New Zealand. ISPs weren't keen on disconnecting their own customers for the benefit of one set of industries, and they couldn't believe the law provided no indemnification from lawsuits; the ISP could be sued both by users and rightsholders if they didn't like the way it was handling the three strikes program. And users wanted some form of third-party or judicial arbitration before any Internet disconnection...

As for all those worries about false positives and the quality of evidence? RIANZ has never taken them too seriously, since (like the RIAA) it insists that its detection methodology is basically foolproof. In a recent interview posted on the RIANZ website, CEO Campbell Smith was asked if he would "eat his hat" if music industry copyright notifications turned out to contain numerous errors.

"3 strikes" strikes out in NZ as government yanks law


  1. As sad as it is, Ireland (Republic of) still has this stupid rule and we’re getting very little coverage from the media regarding it – things are getting very very dangerous, only a short time before we start getting catch-all firewall filters.

  2. From Canada, I want to thank the kiwis who fought this. We are all better off because of your precedent in NZ.

  3. Now, if only the Australian government would give up on their internet filtering proposals…

  4. Don’t celebrate just yet, they are re-drafting it. The copyright act amendment 92A has been sent back to committee for review, so this may not be the last that we see of it.

  5. It’s been sent back to the *Minister* for review. I’ve seen nothing to suggest the penalty won’t be retained – but we might expect some kind of clarity and explicit due process.

    And there’s still section 92c – notice and takedown, with no mention of counter-notices.

    [And, constitutionally, it might be a little concerning they’ve just declared it won’t come into force rather than repealing it which they could easily do this week if they wanted]

  6. @Kieran ; it’s a bit of a moot point tbh, Eircom (the ISP in question) has an effective monopoly on internet service in Ireland. Being an Australian owned company with a horrifically poor service record they obviously see no incentive in fighting for our rights.

    The other DSL ISPs are just acting as resellers. The saddest thing is that the DSL cost/speed ratio in the capital is the most extortinate in the developed world (and outside the capital is mostly unavailable). Anything over 3mb BB is almost unheard of in residential areas and the internet penetration is very low country-wide, so there has been very little public outcry over it…

    To top it all off, we copy UK IT related legislature verbatim most of the time so any draconian measures imposed over there will be over here in a matter of time. Its a sad time to be alive.

  7. I don’t know much about the situation in Ireland but I’d say there’s every reason for an ISP to fight the right not to enforce the sorts of laws in question.

    Firstly, enforcing them involves more work than not enforcing it (the same reason they have poor customer service).

    Secondly, terminating contracts with paying customers is a pretty terrible way to make a profit.

    So they might not give a shit about anyone’s rights, but I’m guessing they do care about their profits which would be affected by both points.

  8. This isn’t yet too much of a victory.

    It sounds like the main govt objection to the current law is that it places onerous decision making on ISPs.

    This law may be back in a very similar form, just with a horrible independent govt body making the disconnect calls, rather than the ISPs themselves.

  9. Here’s what will happen, folks.

    This legislation will be withdrawn with great fanfare. While opponents are celebrating, it will be replaced quietly with something marginally less bad. Then, under cover of some (manufactured)crisis, additions will be made that will make the net effect even more extreme than the original legislation.

  10. Not really the current government’s bill, it was introduced by the previous Labor government.

  11. ok, so can we get back Flight of the Conchords now that we are rockn’ and reeln’ with our Aucky pals?

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