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Internet file sharing law passes after loopy debate

UPDATE THURSDAY: 9.20am: The bill has passed its third and final vote.

UPDATE THURSDAY 6am: Parliament broke up at midnight without a final vote on the bill. It is expected to pass its third reading when the house resumes today.

Opponents have re-ignited a campaign to blackout their social network avatars (or photos), first introduced - to worldwide publicity - when the infamous Section 92a (see below) was introduced.

If passed, the new law will come into effect on September 1.

It will see up to three warnings sent over a three month period to those suspected of downloading pirated material from the internet. The process can culminate in a fine of up to $15,000 or, under a cabinet-level order, internet disconnection. 

Unlike the old Section 92a, which would have been enforced by ISPs, the process will be adjudicated by the (possibly soon to be utterly swamped) Copyright Tribunal. The tribunal currently has three part-time members.

One thing that hasn't changed: the burdon of proof is on the accused.

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 10.30pm: The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill  has passed its second reading 111 to 11.

The Greens and independent MPs Hone Harawira and Chris Carter voting against the legislation. By the same margin, the house defeated an amendment put forward by Green MP Gareth Hughes to remove the government's right to disconnect internet accounts under the legislation. 

Labour's long dark night of the soul
Speaking in Parliament after the vote this evening, Labour communications and IT spokeswoman Clare Curran said her party opposed internet account termination for copyright infringers.

But it supported the bill because its compromise version only allowed for a person's internet account to be cut off by an order in council.

Such an order can only be issued by a cabinet minister and has to be signed by the Governor General - a much more high-level process than the three-warnings-and-you're-out regime originally outlined in the notorious (and now scrapped) Section 92a (aka S92) which would have been enforced by ISPs. The independent Copyright Tribunal will now act as sheriff - seen as a major concession by Ms Curran. The MP said National had remained intractable in its desire to maintain account termination as an ultimate sanction. 

From termination to Terminator
Ms Curran's comments got a mixed reaction from creative and tech industry people following the debate on Parliament TV and tweeting online - some of which was nakedly hostile as one high profile tech journalist, and a usually supportive Tuanz boss, liberally deployed the F word*.

Many still saw the bill as flawed for what they saw as a presumption of guilt, and kowtowing to international studios and music labels - many of whom don't make their full catalogue available through legal download channels (a situation acknowledged by Ms Curran).

But at least her Dunedin South MP's arguments were coherent and articulate amid a debate that often sunk to almost surreal levels of technical ignorance.

Also speaking in favour of the bill, National MP Jonathan Young compared the internet to Skynet, the fictional artificial intelligence network in the Terminator movies that tried to destroy mankind.

National MPs Melissa Lee and Katrina Shanks also made at times confused contributions. "I've got no idea," Ms Shanks stated at one point.

ABOVE: National's Jonathan Young notes, for reasons best known to himself, that "Leonardo Da Vinci used to draw helicopters" before going on to compare the internet to Skynet, the fictional artificial intelligence that featured in the Terminator movies, waged in a war against mankind.

Lee street legal?
National's Melissa Lee emphasised it was still a crime to download a movie or song, even if it was not available available to New Zealand audiences (much online content is blocked by territory as studios, or labels, try to control what is released where, and when).

Armchair opponents of the bill were quick to ask if a "K-Pop" compilation she had referred to in a tweet 24 hours earlier - compiled by a friend - was an example of copyright infringement.

Urgency hustle
Critics, including InternetNZ director Dave Moskovitz questioned by the bill was being rushed through parliament in urgency - a measure adopted to accelerate the passage of Christchurch quake legislation. The director was "p****d off", at the government's abuse of the measure.

Simon Power, the minister responsible for the bill, was not present for the debate.

(*This morning Mr Brislen qualified:  I should point out the swearing was about the process and the level of understanding/debate more than anything.)

WEDNESDAY 5pm: A Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill Supplementary Order Paper is being rushed through parliament tonight.

The house is under urgency due to Christchurch quake legislation - a situation that also limits opportunity for discussion on any other bills.

In November, the commerce select committee reached a compromise deal on a controversial internet account termination provision, partially mollifing critics including InternetNZ.

The legislation, aimed at people who illegally download copyrighted files such as music, movies or commercial software, is now centred around a series of warning notices over three months, and a fine of up to $15,000, ajudicated by the independent Copyright Tribunal.

However, it still maintains account termination as an ultimate sanction for copyright offenders - albeit one that can only imposed by an order in council (created by a cabinet minister and signed by the Governor General).

Green MP Gareth Hughes has proposed an amendment removing the account termination clause.

But Justice Minister Simon Power said the government would oppose Mr Hughes' amendment.

Amendments explained
Lowndes Jordan partner Rick Shera - an intellectual property specialist who has been folllowing the legislation, said the Supplementary Order Paper made two basic amendments to the Bill; one was to delay the legislation from coming into effect, from July to September. He said this was good for ISPs who were concerned about the short time period allotted to implement the Bill, giving them an extra three months “which probably is the bare minimum but at least it’s better than July”.

He said the second thing the SOP did was make minor amendments to a clause put in by the select committee in section 122ma. The clause created a presumption in favour of copyright owners, that notices and material submitted to ISPs were conclusive evidence effectively of copyright ownership and infringement. The changes being considered today remove the reference to the presumption being conclusive and, arguably, made it slightly easier for the account holder to reject that presumption, but that the amendments left the presumption in place.

“It makes it slightly easier than it was before but it still in my view completely unnecessary to have a presumption like that.”

Mr Shera said even from a copyright owners’ point of view, the presumption did not make sense.

It was likely that strong submissions from owners had resulted in the clause, which made it easier for account holders to be penalised. He said that the two sides, copyright owners and account holders, were unbalanced, since the copyright owners no longer had to submit proof of ownership or infringement.

“It makes it quite a lot easier for a copyright owner to go to the tribunal because it doesn’t have to do anything further other than just send them a copy of their notice that they’ve all ready given to the ISPs.”

Urgency unusual for intellectual property law
He said the bill had been waiting on the order paper for a long time and it seemed unusual that an intellectual property statute would be subjected to urgency. 

There had been examples overseas of these sorts of processes being abused by copy right owners, who either didn’t actually have evidence of the infringement, or own the copy right or were attempting to shut down competitors or critics. He said the presumption was put in without notice or consultation.

“I do act for a number of copyright owners, I can’t see why there is a need for a presumption, I mean if copyright owners are sure of their evidence then they would simply submit that evidence to the copyright tribunal...the tribunal is perfectly capable of weighing up whose evidence is better, that’s what tribunals do all the time”. 

More by Chris Keall and Alex Walls

Comments and questions

Ew. Get with the times, yo. Copyright is dead, I'm gonna go download John Key's new album 'my eighth house is parliament', illegally (no way!). Look out for the 'str8 nat gangsta' underground remix album, with a fresh take on the old classics like 'pour some debt on a b*tch' and 'point of order... F*CK YOU!'. Is it still technically illegal to put music on an ipod? Seriously though, the greatest concern here should be avoiding the situation in the US where the courts are at the beck and call of the music industry, and where anyone charged with illegally downloading music is forced to settle for ridiculous amounts of money, with the threat that if you go to court you will be, invariably and inevitably, forced to pay an even more ridiculous sum of money. I think you mean mollifying,btw.

Sigh, this will do absolutely nothing to quell internet piracy. With free software such as Tor, IP Tunnel and a good proxy, you can be on your merry way in less than 10 minutes, your ISP will be none the wiser (as they can only sniff packets when they know something is going on, and then time it, but that would be doing the copyright holders job for them, so that won't happen), so this amounts to nothing, sure it might stop the uneducated for a week or two till they upskill, then it will be business as usual..If you want to stop internet piracy, make everything free, then get the ISP to charge the user a nominal charge for say $1 per movie, plus a percentage of bandwidth used that ISP's make money off of (Just who do you think uses unlimited plans?)...and you have your problem solved..But that is just too easy a thought.

Well said, this is exactly what i will do the minute this becomes law. The law will never work and those that wrote it are just wasting taxpayer money trying to take themselves so seriously.

only people to make on this BS law will be @TelecomNZ with churn fees as people change after warning #2

So, if I'm innocent, and accused of a crime I have to pay for my own defence. WTF?

I'm getting really pissed off over the abuse of urgency!

honestly, this is insane. innocent people can be held liable for the crime that they have not even committed. everytime we as people at home log onto internet, our ip address changes and is not static of fixed. then there is no way the isp can accuse us of any illegal or wrong doing. honestly this bill should be scrapped and thrown away.

Actually, even with a non-static IP, ISPs are required to record the account using an IP at any time.
Encrypting via an Internet proxy will negate the ability of ISP's to sniff the data being downloaded, so I guess we're going to see proxies pop up overseas that people cna use.
The problem with technology is that smart people know how to get around a lot of the rules.
And as for a National MP comparing the iNternet to Skynet - what a tosser!

very true indeed. i agree. there are many softwares available to negate or to prevent isps from sniffing the data. no offence, only the pc geeks would be able to get around this issue.

your ISP assigns you the IP address. All they have to do to identify you is look at who was assigned that IP at a given time. limited anomity can attained through use of proxys or networks like tor.
What is insane is the guilt upon accusation.

Looks like NZ just got the other half of the bill from Mr Key wining and dining Warner Bros to keep The Hobbit in NZ.

Bend over and say hello to the corporate bosses.

never been so disappointed in Nz parliament. this is depressing stuff.

In South korea, as the new internet copy right law passed, global porn companies sued huge number of illegal downloaders for over $ 2 bil in less than a week of time. Then the government officials had to announce 'porn companies can't sue us don't worry' speech in front of the media.

This is very disturbing, another case of economic imperialism by the U.S. whereby NZ in effect becomes subject to U.S.-driven laws.

i came to live in NZ cause it represents freedom and a chance to be who ever you want. how can john key bend over and take this up the ass?? he will not get my vote in the future. just look into his eyes, he's not trust worthy


I am disgusted that this is piggy backing on top of the Christchurch disaster to be rushed through, absolutely disgusted.

This is commercial legislation that needs to be carefully considered not rammed up the back side of Kiwis because of US big business interests. Screw national they won't get my vote next election.

yea i agree with everyone this is stupid we should be allowed to download movies music and things for free. we should not have to pay for anything the people who make them dont need to make money so should make them out of the goodness of there hearts...
Dont cut our net just cause were ripping people off. (Obviously sarcastic)

How does someone prove they didn't do something?

Innocent until proven guilty.... wait no... apparently it's the other way around now. I was shocked that I was only now hearing about this, thinking it must have been going on for ages, as things that effect the lives of what is probably the majority of New Zealanders should. But.. no again... they are rushing through a bill that takes away our given right to be innocent until proven guilty, without even giving us time to rally and argue our side. And how? Using the resulting confusion of an event that killed hundreds of our own. As a proud cantabrian, and having experienced both quakes first hand, and the loss they resulted in, I am disgusted and outraged with members of our own government taking advantage of this horrific event. It is rude, vile and the New Zealand people WILL NOT stand for it.

And here I thought we citizens of the United States were the only ones with sleaze bag politicians for sale to the highest bidder. I guess I was wrong :-(

Why wouldn't it surprise me if the next thing this clown and his ilk propose is the burning of books, identity cards, the enforced resttlement of "undesirables". Oh yeah, and we will have to have The Final Solution to this internet thing. Didn't our forefathers lay down their lives to defeat the Nazis? And yet here they are again, fascism in a smart suit. My great-grandfather would be spinning in his grave at Ypres to know that scum like this have been spawned in NZ and have the gall to pretend to be representing the people.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Pay for your music you cheapskates!

[Everybody should pay for commercial online content. Issues around the bill include presumption of guilt; how to handle the situation when employees or family members share an internet connection; and record labels and studios who often do not release content for New Zealand - at times often because they simply can't be bothered with a market our size for a specific release. It would be great to see them put the same effort into expanding legitimate online content options as they do lobbying. - CK]

we do ya egg evey month

OK some people like me (a teen) cant afford to buy music. this is because of the price. i will normally pay for all my music but you know, money is not always their for music. With this bill that targets up-loaders/ down-loaders, will this mean that i cant up-load pictures to Trademe or Facebook. Will i be able to download information of the revision sheets, because you have to download these, don't you .

What gets to me is not the fact that this is an issue about piracy but rather the principle of how the govt. has gone about this - who the hell are these businessmen/politicians representing? First we voted against the anti-smacking law (and got a majority) only to have these assholes disregard our votes and now this sudden rush - using a disaster as a smokescreen. Reminds me of how Bush used 911 to create a mob mentality against Sadam for his own business interest. Why not the rush to do something about out milk prices? Cantabrians are struggling with that too (or perhaps Johnny-boy has interests in the dairy industry?).This is what happens when you put the power into the hands of financiers. Nats will NOT get my vote as they are a law unto themselves!!

People keep suggesting that the ISP's will be sniffing packets etc. and this just isn't the case here. ISP's hate this law.

All the evidence for file-sharing will come from "informers" in p2p networks who can see the IP address of someone seeding a file, record that information (IP, timestamp and file) and use it as their evidence for infringement.

It's worth noting that one-click hosts that let you download an entire file over HTTP are practically impossible to intercept in this way (without a physical packet sniffing box in the network between client and host), and that if ISP's had such devices (many do) they are in no way obliged to share any information from them with Copyright holders.

So all in all, a useless piece of law to scare a few casual downloaders but fails to address the 50% of file sharing through HTTP, and the heavy tech-savy users who will diguise their public IP.

Wow..... it was my flat m8 but never mind I'm already guilty, so this rushed bill has told me. Guys, Simon was at my place using my internet on Weds.... its all ok tho, he is just the user so he is safe.

Isn't the government supposed to reflect the interests of the public? This bill is only in the interests of major corperations and not even the artists they claim to represent.

Some peeps here want to take a deep breath and consider, "property rights".
For far too long there has been a lot stealing of private property using the internet.
You download someone elses property, then you are a thief, pure and simple.
this sort of crime, and it is a crime, crys out for the introduction of the rotan.

Actually it's not theft. Copyright infringement and theft are different things.

Namely: theft means stealing the original, copyright infringement means making a copy.

John - I agree entirely with you. It alarms me that there seem to be so many people out there in cyberland who have no compunction whatever about committing what is outright theft, pure and simple. What sort of people is the welfare state breeding!

If you put it up on the net it's no longer private property. If you don't want something you put on the net stolen don't put it on there. It's not much different than leaving your wallet lying around in the public domain. The Internet is the public domain. In my opinion it's the big corporations exploiting man made technology for capitol gain. Once upon a time a performer had to perform live, was paid once for each performance, with man made technology they copy their own work, mass produce it, sit back and watch the money be printed off the printing press without having to perform ever again. Who's steeling?
New technology here folks built by the people for the people so you greedy people need to learn to deal with it.
As a fair price for the ease of media distribution then I am sure most would pay happily, but charge a fortune so the fat cats can maintain the high life on the backs of the artists and you will reap what you sow. Go get a real job you lazy, greedy losers.

“The present vast overpopulation, now far beyond the world carrying capacity, cannot be answered by future reductions in the birth rate due to contraception, sterilization and abortion, but must be met in the present by the reduction of numbers presently existing. This must be done by whatever means necessary.”
Initiative for the United Nations ECO-92 EARTH CHARTER

I guess the law means that the politicians can go and tell the lobbyists see what a good job we are doing - and in fact for 99% of the issue they are trying to address it will not work. I remember a Belgium man I met speaking of the French " You see they are a civilized country and therefore they have to have laws - but nobody has to follow them" This is another such law - I guess some people will get their little letter and may even get two - but anyone who knows what they are doing - and the info is out there will not get a 3rd. We all know its wrong - but it is really fulfilling a need until the retailers catch up with the internet users - those that have like Amazon etc are doing well and people are paying. e.g. saw a book for sale in the paper on the weekend. The end of a series - $60 in NZ - but on Amazon the hard cover was US$15. The Kindle version US$9 OK so no GST but GST is under $2. Mostly now I have a kindle I am picking up books for US$0.99 and sometimes I splurge to US$2.99. At those prices I am happy to pay. I.e. Amazon have caught up with the current world. Much better than an unenforceable law at least one that is unenforceable with the career downloaded who won't pay for anything.

The leading thinker behind the Green party movement is one Heinrich Boell.

He realized that the Left wing needed a new face and packageing, after he read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, which revealed the cruelty of Socialism, behind the Iron Curtain.

He took the Communist Manifesto and replaced the 'working class' with the 'environment', the red flag with a green one and changed the name to the Green Movement.

I believe it important that posters understand the radical & Marxist basis of the Green party movement.

Like the Bolshevik Party all truths and especially scientific ones are subordinate to party policy.

Like the Bolshevik Party it is permissible to distort and twist science for political ends.

In debating scientific matters it is well to be aware of this as scientific truths are always subordinated to political doctrine.

The NZ Stalins of the Green party are Locke and Norman.

Like Stalin ,their belief is that all humans are subservient to the environmental doctrines of the Green party.

Like Stalin , their belief is that all humans are ultimately expendable for the sake of the party.

Legislation to protect corporate interests being rushed through again by National's Prime Minister,(not-so-ex) corporate raider 'shonky' John Key?

Another 'Rogernomic$ blitzkreig, through abusing the 'Urgency' provisions of Parliament?

As occurred with the $upercity - 'super ripoff''?

Penny Bright

The younger generations coming through don't really care about copyright, give it 20-30 years and copyright will be a thing of the past. It's an old man's tool which hasn't adapted well in the digital age. RIP.

Down with the West! Support the Kingsland Marxists!!!

Thanks for the informative post. I just stumbled upon your post, a good view point. Hey your post left me quenching for more Your post really gives ou

Here’s the thing:

A three strikes law requires the complicity of those involved in IT to not only dob in those who are ‘suspected’ of illegal downloading or file sharing, but also make the decision to disconnect them without judge or jury.

In Finland, the internet is considered a human right. Without it, the poor and disenfranchised become more so. It is too powerful to be considered a political tool.

The reason that it requires your complicity is because the people who are pushing the law (the United States) and the people who passed the law (the NZ parliament) lack the wherewithal to do it themselves.

Let us be clear. This is a law that cannot be enforced. To be correctly enforced it requires the utmost complicity (or to call it what is – collaboration) of those people who in fact make the internets possible. You – the technologist. Does John Key or Simon Power have the vaguest idea how to do more than turn a computer on? Probably not.

You didn’t train for this. All that skill employed in the service of improving user experience, making networks that are robust – improving the freedom and knowledge of users here in New Zealand was not so that you could police the population or give that power to a government that certainly doesn’t understand how tatty it looks to use the Christchurch earthquake to get a bill like this through Parliament.

Is it?

Do you really want to give that power to someone who refers to the Internet as “Skynet”?

We all know how easy it is to get around this law. The problem is that with a law like this on the books and the complicity of the ICT community – our personal rights as a country can be exploited. Just like the earthquake urgency meeting.

Moreover, the entertainment industry, emboldened by its success here in New Zealand, will no doubt use that success to browbeat other nations into enacting similar, damaging legislation in the name of preserving a dying business model. The consequences of this in a country that is a fledgling democracy or already with limited human rights are incalculable.

Do not sacrifice your talents on the altar of politics.

Prometheus, take back the fire.

the root of the problem here is that record companies are going out, don't listen to the bullsh*t, artists are making more money than ever, they make more money from live shows than records and free access means more people at shows, simple. these laws won't deliver money to artists, it'll give it to record companies, artists will only be effected negatively, less exposure, less people seeing and hearing their work. it's only a matter of time til people realise this and record companies die and w&nks like p-diddy can't piggy back on talent any more. viva la tech.

Great article. So angry about the misuse of urgency! It's very undemocratic.

Go politicians..nothing better to do in parliament that create unforcible laws...I can see the spy police knocking down doors of some pc geek who cant get out and cant afford to buy movies, so downloads movies that have already made millions in profit at the box office..the actors/producers etc live in huge homes etc...and this poor geek gets done for d.loading a movie which he may just buy the blue ray for...go politicians...glad you think of the important things effecting this country!

Instead of going after the people who download them. They should simply go after the ones who upload them.
This law is also more likely to catch innocent people rather than the real criminals. I mean, what if the criminals is using your IP?, so you get the punishment?.
Its not gonna work well...

The first step to defeat a ridiculous law is to defy it...
Can someone post a URL for free downloads?

Rights will be violated.

Article 12 of The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

Thank you for posting that. Does it apply to females also? (it says "his", twice)

I think the main issues, for people in NZ especially, are access and price. One reason that many people download movies is that they have often been out in the states for a long time (already winning Oscars, being talked about, etc) before they even go into the movie theatres here - people hear about movies, they want to see them. For instance, 127 Hours had already been nominated for multiple awards before it was even released into movie theatres here.

The other major problem - and the biggest for me - is price. CDs are expensive!! Ludicrously so. I would happily buy every album I like if they were all $5, but $20-30 is just ridiculous, and when I've mentioned this to other people, they feel the same. I'm sure the record companies would find it much easier to sell four albums at $5 than one at $20.

This law is not going to result in more people buying albums, it will just result in people learning new ways to break the rules, and less publicity for artists.

Our government is the biggest pirate out there!! Those moron's are running this country into the ground, to be honest if i was a producer or a movie star i wouldnt care to much about piracy because they make million's anyway while im only making $400-$500 a week!! An the more you share the bigger your name will get
--- I pay tax im a slave in the 21st century my chains are just invisible---

So what is a business meant to do to protect themselves? The definition in the law is "using an application or network that enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users" which describes a lot more than just file-sharing apps. It actually descibes any web server. How do I stop staff from visiting any random webpage (etc) and downloading copyright stuff and getting my account ultimately disabled? I appreciate that gaining evidence from apps that illegal downloading is hard, but that doesnt solve what I should do when/if infringement notices arrive.
Do the copyright owners publish lists of address/ports/URLs/checksums I should block at the firewall?

What moronic stupid legislation. What about blogs that carry content we may wish to view ..what about copyrighted pictures that people may view. Are we covered by this? To me the law sounds vague. I don't download music or full movies...I just go out and buy the CD or DVD. However what happens with itunes and ipods when this legislation goes out? Isnt that a form of file copying and officially detected?
Watched the programme on fairgo but it did nt seem to cover the above scenarios

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what if I download a movie from torrent just for my personal use?? or any music or video file???

what if I download a movie from torrent just for my personal use?? or any music or video file???

what if I download a movie from torrent just for my personal use?? or any music or video file???

what if I download a movie from torrent just for my personal use?? or any music or video file???

what if I download a movie from torrent just for my personal use?? or any music or video file???

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This is ridiculous I could park up to my local library and download gigabytes of music and they'd get the fine? What about people without passwords enabled on their router? Clearly the Government hasn't thought this through.

Anonymous needs to give these guys a run for their money.

they can block the source if they want. we are the fish , new law is the fish dealer. they don't catch us, and they don't eat us. but they sell us! by Who

Is it illegal to download fonts?

Hang on, being charged with something and then automatically being treated as guilty and having to prove you are INNOCENT! That's a violation of Human Rights as defined by the United Nations and our own Human Rights Commission, who make it very clear that if accused of a crime you are regarded as innocent until proven guilty and entitled to a trial.

How come the New Zealand government is allowed to bring in a law that violates its own standards of human rights AND that of the United Nations?

This gives me great concern, but it fits in with a number of other laws that attempt to bypass the legal system and ascertain guilt without a trial.

No wonder so many people are leaving this country, it's become a dangerous place to live.

piece by piece our freedom has been take away as a civil citizen......awake people

does this mean that the things one did in the past count twords the future or does it start fresh from things downloaded on september 1st ...

It comes as no surprise that there was such urgency in passing the laws. Many of my friends holding IT jobs have been telling me about the SOPA and ACTA and all that stuff about stopping piracy, and of course, in the process, our privacy.