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Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill

By Mike Worsnop - 8 Nov 2010 - 1 comment

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill is intended to deter file sharing copyright  infringement. It has recently been reported on at select committee level.

The main measures included in the bill are:

  • a three warning regime for infringers 
  • allowing ISPs to send warning notices to their customers informing them they have infringed copyright
  • extending the jurisdiction of the Copyright Tribunal to:
    • provide a fast track, low cost process 
    • award penalties of up to $15,000 based on damages sustained by the copyright owner.

The bill also gives the District Court the power to suspend an internet account for up to six months.  The committee has recommended that this power be included in the Copyright Act but that it not be brought into force unless the notice period under the bill and the Copyright Tribunal both prove to be ineffective.

The committee recommended that the three warning regime not apply to cellular mobile networks until August 2013.  It also recommended that the Copyright Tribunal be given the power to decline to make an order where it would be manifestly unjust to the account holder.


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It would be useful to have an example

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The author replies       Two examples of an infringement of the bill are:

• a person allowing data (video, music, programmes) stored on their computer to be available over the internet for another unknown person (person B) to download onto person B's computer, also known as "peer to peer" programmes as the data is transferred directly between two individual computers with equal access to the network

• a person uploading data (video, music, programmes) stored on their computer over the internet to a server which distributes that data to other unknown persons.

The key element of an infringement is the sharing of data by a person who does not have authority from the owner of that data to do so. Individuals commonly have the right to use data (a licence) but no ownership rights in the data. For example purchasing a music CD for personal use is in effect the purchase of (a) the physical disc and (b) a licence to play the music embedded on that disc for personal use only. Any sharing of the data over the internet with third parties is likely to be in breach of the licence and so will be a breach of the law proposed by the Bill.


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