A New Zealand parliamentary committee has recommended that the country’s Copyright Amendment Bill be revised so that repeat online infringers cannot have their Internet accounts suspended (without Ministerial intervention).
Bringing New Zealand a step closer to the introduction of a so-called ‘graduated response’ policy to combat online infringement of copyright works, the New Zealand Commerce Select Committee has recommended that infringers will be sent warning notices at first instance. If infringing behaviour continues after a number of warnings, then the user will receive a notice to appear before the Copyright Tribunal, which has the power to award fines of up to $15,000.
The parliamentary committee has also proposed a review after two years to assess how successfully the Copyright Tribunal approach works and whether it will be necessary to introduce the penalty of Internet account suspension.
The recommendations also state that neither party should be allowed representation at Copyright Tribunal hearings (unless it can be demonstrated that a person will be unfairly prejudiced by this) and that infringement notices sent by rights holders should be deemed to be evidence of an infringement (unless a person accused has valid reasons to rebut this).
New Zealand first introduced graduated response provisions as part of amendments to its Copyright Act in 2009. Whilst receiving support from rights holder groups, protests from the internet industry and other groups led the Government to submit an amended Bill in February 2010. Following the latest recommendations of the Commerce Select Committee, the new Bill will again be put before Parliament for consideration.
The full report and full text of the Bill are available from: http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/SC/Documents/Reports/8/3/6/49DBSCH_SCR4901_1-Copyright-Infringing-File-Sharing-Amendment-Bill.htm
Inquiries relating copyright law and copyright infringement please contact copyright lawyer Adam Simpson.