New Zealand ready to reintroduce "three strikes" copyright rule

Uh-oh: New Zealand is ready to reintroduce the "three-strikes" rule that says that everyone in your household will be denied Internet access (and all that goes with it, from education to civic engagement to health information) if one person is accused of infringing on copyright:
Due to New Zealand's geographical isolation the internet is a vital tool for connecting to the rest of the world, and is also becoming more pervasive with vital services moving online such as parts of government, health care (records, scheduling) and social interaction tools (newspapers, phone, email, social networks). Disconnection may hinder people's ability to pay bills, operate their business or do their job, access banking, education, insurance, etc. Due to this the internet is already a necessary service like other utilities such as the phone and postal systems. With internet use showing no signs of slowing, in future years disconnection will be seen as a shortsighted and increasingly unfair penalty.

For artists, fines have the potential to include compensation for copyright infringement, whereas broad and indirect punishments that harm innocent people will simply reflect badly on artists.

It's likely that there will be significant business compliance costs with termination. ISPANZ have estimate that 90% of NZ Businesses use network devices that are currently incapable of tracking and we see no coverage of this in the draft (although it's unsure whether we would expect at this early stage).

Terminator 2: MED release Section 92A Proposal. (via Michael Geist)


  1. Oh you kooky Kiwis! Why not look to your nearest neighbour for some sound Internet law proposals.


    What exactly is it about the internet Governments don’t understand? Do they honestly not see that it is the most important piece of communications technology ever created and therefore vital.

    Was there ever a proposal anywhere in the world that ‘criminals’ would have their phones disconnected to stop them planning their crimes?

    Why on earth treat the internet any differently?

  2. Although I’m an NZer, this proposed change doesn’t bother me much. It is reliant on the copyright holder (not ISP as last time) accusing a person of violating copyright. This would then go to a copyright board which currently undertake ventures such as disciplining libraries for allowing too many pages of books to be photocopied.

    So there are two reasons why this is not scary to me:
    1. how will the copyright holder know who is illegally acquiring their product?
    2. the current copyright board will not have the resources to investigate the potential numbers of copyright violation accusation.

    The NZ government and copyright groups have already stated that disconnection from the internet is the worst they would do in NZ – so no law suits here. Several copyright holders have already commented publicly that they do not want anyone to lose internet access, and that they would not be likely to accuse someone of copyright infringement. The case may be different, however, for large groups that represent musicians such as APRA.

  3. Indeed. Also, the NZ government is introducing internet filtering / censorship without public debate later this year, and have been trialling the system in secret since 2007!

    It’s near unaccountable, allows for the Dept of Internal Affairs to snoop on same-server-IP traffic, and the blocked site list is secret. However Thomas Beagle has been doing an excellent job requesting and documenting the details using Official Information Act requests.

    At least Australia has their scheme in the public purview.

  4. Typical government ploy. Introduce a law that is so absurd that no one in their right mind would accept it and it gets shot down.

    Then, after a few weeks/months, re-introduce the same law, but slightly modified to make it seem less absurd and watch as people flock to support it saying “at least it’s not as bad as it used to be”.

  5. @#2

    You should be afraid, very afraid:

    1. They wont and will randomly accuse pretty much anyone- innocent grandmas and children included. See RIAA behaviour in the US for examples.

    2. Lobbying bodies will use this either as an excuse to remove to investigation and review requirements (claiming it makes the intended law ineffective) or will push for the copyright board to acquire and ever expanding amount of funding and power.

  6. It’s not Kiwis ragging on their fellows that’s the problem, it’s Hollywood summarily penalising them.

    Here’s a pointed example: downloading the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy movies, based on novels, filmed in NZ, will cause Hollywood to deprive you of internet.

    It’s a protection racket on the same order as the variety seen is Hollywood’s own movies, no wonder they know it so well!

    Reminds me of ‘banning’ ala Steve Biko in South Africa, or any other form of political censorship.

  7. The ‘three strikes’ legislation directs the citizens to purchase individual internet connections, thus making it easier for third parties to monitor and sue offenders. 1984 again.

  8. @ #1:

    I think it just really sticks in the lawmaker’s throats that the world’s most vital communication system has so far been remarkably resistant to attempts by authorities to regulate it. They just can’t stand the thought of all those people who, since they aren’t being sufficiently regulated, must be up to no good. It does give me alot of satisfaction to watch them constantly try and fail to beat the masses though :D

    Anyway, I have faith in my country. The public will reject it and all will return to normal. Even if by some horrific chance it does get passed into law, privacy is only a few free utilities away.

  9. What exactly is it about the internet Governments don’t understand? Do they honestly not see that it is the most important piece of communications technology ever created and therefore vital.

    Honestly, I think lawmakers understand the internet just fine. But, they also understand the enormous pressure and financial influence wielded by those who are pushing for these laws.

    One only has to note that, universally, these laws hinge on mere accusation, and not proof of violation, to trigger punishment. That has corporate hands all over it, rather than any elected official’s mark.

  10. governments have been (and are) using the tools of force and coercion of millennia ago. The web is truly a New Thing. My money is on the web.

  11. “1. how will the copyright holder know who is illegally acquiring their product?”
    How do they find out now? The problem is all they need to do is make the accusation. Proof seems to be not required. So they can just simply pick a name out of a phone book, for all it matters. If you lose internet after it’s proven then that makes a certain sense yet it always seems to be losing upon repeated accusation. Which means the burden of proof goes out the window and folks get punished regardless of any actual wrongdoing.

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