New Zealand passes law to reduce online file sharing

New Zealand just enacted legislation that puts in place a three-notice regime to deter illegal file sharing.

The three-notice regime involves ISPs sending warning notices to their customers informing them they may have infringed copyright. The legislation extends the jurisdiction of the NZ Copyright Tribunal to provide an efficient, low-cost process to hear illegal file-sharing claims. The tribunal will be able to make awards of up to $15,000 based on damage sustained by the copyright owner.

The bill includes a power for a district court to suspend an internet account for up to six months, in appropriate circumstances. However, this element of the legislation will not be brought into force unless the notice process and the remedies by the Copyright Tribunal are ineffective.

The Bill will come into force on September 1 2011. It will not apply to mobile networks until October 2013.

New Zealand’s law follows efforts in France, the UK, South KoreaIreland, Australia and elsewhere through legislation, litigation or voluntary agreement to implement a regime to deter online file sharing. Other countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.S. have enacted, or have proposals to enact, legislation that would give courts or other bodies the power to block file sharing sites, shut down pirate websites, or to seize their domain names to prevent or inhibit access to such sites to reduce online file sharing.

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