New Zealand Strives to Cut Down P2P with ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ Measures


New Zealand strives to cut down P2P with ‘guilty until proven innocent’ measuresSuppose you have got a DSL home connection through which some infringements were made without your knowledge. The politicians of New Zealand agree that you should be imposed big fines over such infringements even if they were committed without your knowledge. Also they agree with the right holders to assume accuracy in such cases while making complaints.

This is the country’s second effort to cut down the illegal sharing of files. The first attempt was in 2009 when the politicians were forced to discard the internet disconnection plan after a massive public upheaval. The legislators did it under the pretext of feeling guilty on being accused. Public outcry is strong for the second time also.

The anti P2P governance is planning to impose huge fines to the tune of NZ$15,000. The fine is designed to cover for the compensation as well as the punitive measure. A parliamentary committee report affirmed this fact. The users will be served with legal notices. If the account holder is not responding after sending a certain number of notices, it will be taken to a Copyright tribunal which will impose the penalty. The notices will assume that the account holder is guilty until proven otherwise.

The report said that even though the infringement notice acts by the above mentioned approach, this would be open to rebuttal in cases where the account holders have valid reasons in favor of them. The right holder needs to convince the tribunal about the accuracy of its assumption. The report also hoped that this will be an effective step towards achieving fast track remedies for grievances of copyright owners.

The process will surely be faster; however the accuracy of the assumption is still doubtful. One of the New Zealand bloggers of law noted that a majority of copyright infringement petitions fail due to the failure of the copyright holders to prove their ownership. The New Zealand law governs the judgments in such cases. Similar with the case of Google which receives a lot of infringement claims. Most of them are defective for one or more reasons.

According to InternetNZ or .nz, one of the top internet domains of the country, the new approach transfers the burden to the customers. The acceptance of the infringement notice as the conclusive evidence necessitates the user to prove his innocence. The domain did not favor the voting for such a law in the parliament.

The proposed approach applies equally to all Internet account holders and does not consider whether they are actually guilty. This is certainly harmful for home internet connection holders. Take the case of the 16 year old German boy who shared some German metal songs via the net. The infringement notices were served to his father also by the music company. Small business firms can suffer heavy loss due to the infringements caused by the employees.

The parliamentary report has considered whether to exempt certain services like universities and reading rooms from the punitive measures since there were chances of a defensive argument with the lack of control over the infringers. However, the report rejected the exemption based on the fact that the account holders should take necessary actions to prevent infringing from their accounts.

The law did not suggest disconnection of internet accounts. But chances are higher for such a decision to be implemented if the imposing of fines does not produce the desired results.

The Green opposition party opposed the idea of disconnecting the internet connection as they felt that it was not matching the problem’s gravity and hence would not be an effective solution. It is hoped that law will not be extended on similar grounds to disconnect telephone connections because of their use in crimes.

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