New Zealanders Plan May 1st Protests of “Three-Strikes”

New Zealanders Plan May 1st Protests of “Three-Strikes”

Marches to take place around the country to fight back against the new Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill that critics believe “has been unfairly and unjustly brought into law.”

Last week we reported how New Zealand had passed a bill that puts in place a “three-strike” graduated response system to combat illegal file-sharing, and already critics are planning marches around the country to protest the draconian legislation.

The Copyright Amendment (New Technologies) Act sets up a “three-strikes” regime which begins with notices and fines of up to $15,000 for infringement. If the notices and fines, the latter meted out by an expanded Copyright Tribunal, are found to be ineffective the legislation gives district courts the power to suspend an internet account for up to six months.

However, what has really angered people is the way it was passed. Rather than being debated and voted on as a stand alone bill it was tucked into emergency legislation dealing with the Christchurch earthquake.

“Not only is the urgency process being abused, but our government is also exploiting the people of Christchurch by using their unfortunate situation to pass underhanded legislation,” noted Pirate Party of New Zealand secretary Noel Zeng.

There’s also concern, especially among business owners, that the new law will mean a virtual end to public Wi-Fi since the operators will be held liable for any infringement that occurs on their connection.

The sad thing is, as even our National Security Agency pointed out in response to France’s “three-strikes” regime, is that file-sharers will simply equip themselves with strong encryption tools to avoid detection, and make both the copyright holders and the govt losers in the end.

The law has its roots back in 2008 when the Copyright Amendment (New Technologies) Act was first passed. It was scheduled to take effect March 27th, 2009, but the ensuing public outcry and the refusal of at least one ISP to participate forced New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to throw out the controversial Section 92A, aka “threes-strikes” response.

“We should have had debate and broad agreement about the role of copyright in an Internet age before legislating what the penalties for infringing should be,” said the Internet open rights group InternetNZ.

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill repeals Section 92A of the Copyright Act and replaces it with the new process I mentioned earlier, but will disconnect entire households for the alleged misdeeds of a single individual.

It’s scheduled to take effect September 1st unless New Zealanders are able to raise enough fuss to get “three-strikes” repealed a second time.

So far May 1st marches are planned for the cities of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, but more are sure to be organized as the public becomes more aware of what the new law will mean for them.

For more information on how you can get involved check out the “Black Out” page on Facebook.

Stay tuned.

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