New Zealand Protested Copyright Law

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Old 28-May-2011
Post New Zealand Protested Copyright Law

New Zealandís libraries submitted concerns about the revised version of the countryís copyright law. The matter is that new legislation could hold the libraries responsible for infringing users, and even require the institutions to identify and track every user.

Although the country passed a revised version of its copyright legislation less than a month ago, public institutions are already expressing concern about anonymous users violating the law, which can result in the suspension of their Internet connection. Indeed, the new legislation allows for penalties of up to $12,000 plus suspension of the Internet connection for 6 months for repeat infringements. Meanwhile, public institutions like libraries face the problem of offering free Internet access to many users.

Now, if just one anonymous user of such network is alleged of downloading copyrighted content, the network of the institution as a whole can be suspended. Although the legislation mentions the user or account holder, here the account holder (institution) actually provides service to hundreds if not thousands of people. Thatís why the libraries of the country started to complain that the new law is misconceived and unfair.

The institutionsí representatives hope that copyright owners, along with the Copyright Tribunal and District Courts, will be able to recognize that taking steps by libraries to minimize copyright violation is a lawful defense against charges of liability. Although the libraries could start asking people for identification before using the Internet connection they offer, such approach would repel non-library members, as well as people who donít have appropriate identification.

Another way the libraries can comply with the law is to put in place a system able to identify users and log their usage in case they will receive an infringement notice in future. But this will create a new bureaucracy nightmare, because the institutions would have to create a special division to control and maintain the list. The New Zealandís libraries refer to their UK colleagues, who have the similar law enforced. In the United Kingdom there are also concerns that the legislation would result in ban on public Wi-Fi access. Currently, the only difference between the countries is that in the UK, so long as public institutions prove they did their best to address infringement, they wonít be held responsible for infringing users.

Anyway, the citizens of New Zealand can make conclusions that the new law can force libraries to log the names and activities of their users, and probably even traffic history as wellÖ

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