NZ Labour backtracks on internet termination

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NZ Labour backtracks on internet termination

Day before new law becomes active.

The New Zealand Labour Party has made an election-year promise to remove account termination as a penalty for illegal fire sharing, a day before the country's three-strikes copyright law comes into effect.

The Labour Party created the original bill in 2006 which came into effect in 2009. It featured account termination and was suspended that same year by the newly-elected National government, after widespread protests featuring British actor Stephen Fry.

Work on the bill continued, however, and Labour supported an amended version through parliament, but it now said the laws were "out of date" and should be reviewed.

The Copyright Act contained a provision to terminate the Internet accounts of repeat file sharers as the ultimate penalty, after fines of up to NZ$15,000 have been handed out.

The termination penalty was inactive as part of a compromise deal with the ruling National Party to support the new copyright law; however, it could be activated at any time through an Order-In-Council process.

Curran said her party no longer believed account termination was appropriate.

If Labour was elected to govern at the next election, it would introduce a bill within three months of taking office to remove termination clauses from the Copyright Bill, according to Curran.

Labour's change of heart was due to the party's belief that Internet access provided social and family connections, as well as work opportunities and education on top of essential government services.

For that reason, everyone should have access to the Internet, something Curran said Labour would work to ensure happened.

Recent polls showed Labour trailing the ruling National Party by up to 26 points.

New Zealand's three-strikes regime came into effect this year, with rights holders able to collect information on alleged infringers from August 21 and enforcement notices to be sent out from September 1.

According to the new law, it is the account holder who is held responsible for any illegal file sharing, and is sent the infringement notices.

After the third notice, rights holders can take account holders to the Copyright Tribunal in Wellington which in turn can issue fines of up to $15,000.

The Copyright Tribunal's decisions can be made with or without oral hearings. Decisions can be appealed on points of law at the High Court or through Judicial Reviews.

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