People not prepared for copyright law - Greens

The Green Party says people have not had enough warning that their file-sharing activities will be monitored from tomorrow. File photo / Thinkstock
The Green Party says people have not had enough warning that their file-sharing activities will be monitored from tomorrow. File photo / Thinkstock

People have not had enough warning that their file-sharing activities will be monitored from tomorrow ahead of a new law coming in next month, the Green Party says.

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act, designed to prevent illegal file sharing by internet users, was passed under urgency in April.

Under the law, copyright owners can send evidence of alleged infringements to internet service providers (ISPs), which would then send up to three infringement notices to the internet account holder.

If the warnings are ignored, the copyright owner can take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal and the tribunal can make awards of up to $15,000 against the account holder.

The law does not come into effect until September 1, but copyright holders will begin collecting data from tomorrow and any breaches found will count toward the three strikes.

In Parliament today, Green MP Gareth Hughes raised concerns about the work that had been done to prepare the public for the law, asking why the Government's information pack would not be on the Ministry of Economic Development's website until next week.

Commerce Minister Simon Power noted a number of organisations that had publicised the law and said the Government information pack would be available from next Wednesday.

"In addition, I note that the new measures have received a lot of coverage in the media, and I have made several press releases - actually, 10 - during the course of the development of the legislation," Mr Power said.

"There are no surprises about what will emerge on 1 September."

However, Mr Hughes said the media attention had largely focussed on MPs' lack of knowledge about file sharing rather than on the particulars of the new law.

He said news that data would be collected from tomorrow would surprise most people.

"The fact is the law was passed under urgency, the regulations were announced only six months before the legislation became live, it isn't much time for ISPs or the public to get ready for the legislation," Mr Hughes told NZPA.

"I also think the Government hasn't been making a big public promotion about it because, quite frankly, there has been quite a significant backlash against the legislation."

The lack of information provided to high schools and universities was also worrying, Mr Hughes said.

"Students are pretty skilled at getting round blocks that schools have in place now to use Facebook, they're likely to still be accessing peer-to-peer file sharing sites, and the Government should be providing advice and support to the Ministry of Education."

Parliament also risked fines or having its internet disconnected, and Mr Hughes said he had written to Speaker Lockwood Smith to clarify whether there was a plan in place to educate Parliamentary Services' internet users about the law.

- NZPA

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