This week, New Zealand's Parliament rushed in its controversial 3-strikes Internet disconnection law, using emergency procedures invoked to help victims of the Christchurch earthquake for cover. The law allows whole families to be disconnected from the Internet if someone using their Internet connection is accused -- without proof -- of three acts of copyright infringement. The NZ government and press say that this draconian law only goes into effect if infringement doesn't decline over the next two years. But the reality is that 3-strikes can go into effect as early as September, based on consultation solely with rightsholders, with no need for public consultation.
Juha sez, "Disconnections under the new copyright law in New Zealand can in fact be activated any time after September 1 when the Act comes into force. This would happen if the notice-and-notice regime where rights holders can take infringers to the Copyright Tribunal is deemed not to be working. IP lawyers I've talked to expect the regime to fail due to the sheer volume of notices and cases, as per overseas experience. The Copyright Tribunal will be staffed by five IP lawyers. At this stage, we don't know if the government will allow public consultation and submissions, should it decide to activate the Internet Termination Penalty in the new law. It's not mentioned in the new Copyright Act. The review after two years is to see if mobile data connections should be subject to the new copyright act as well."
The majority of us recommend the new section 122PA, which would effect what we believe a workable compromise on this issue. The bill's provisions allowing for Internet suspension would be retained, with modifications, but would not be brought into effect immediately. If evidence indicated that notices alone (and the remedy through the Copyright Tribunal) were not having the desired deterrent effect, the suspension provisions could be activated by Order in Council. The majority of us believe this approach would create the right incentives, with the remedy of suspension able to be brought into effect if needed. We would expect an appropriate timetable for monitoring and review to be developed in consultation with rights holders. We note that a similar approach was recently adopted in the United Kingdom.Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill 119-2 (2010), Government Bill (Thanks, Juha!)