Copyright submissions back tribunal role

InternetNZ and the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum demur, saying the process is unnecessary and costly

Submissions on the government’s review of Section 92A of the Copyright Act show reluctance to accept termination of an illegal downloader’s internet account as a penalty, says Ministry of Economic Development spokesman Joshua Herron.

This emerged as a strong theme in a number of submissions, as did support for the suggested involvement of the Copyright Tribunal, Herron says.

The majority of submissions, “60 to 70”, are from individuals, Herron says, with about 40 organisations represented.

See also: InternetNZ gives alternative vision for s92A

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Among the few submissions released so far, however, that of InternetNZ views the stages of the government’s multiphase process involving the Copyright Tribunal as “unnecessary, unlikely to contribute much to reduction in copyright infringement, and likely to incur significant costs for Government, ISPs, rights holders and users”.

InternetNZ instead reinforces its previous preference for “a much lighter notice-and-notice regime”.

Essentially this means the internet service provider’s sole functions in a complaint would be to pass the copyright holder’s notice of alleged offence to the user concerned, and to respond to a subsequent court order for the disclosure of the alleged offender’s identifying details to the rights-holder.

InternetNZ remains “absolutely opposed to the inclusion of termination of internet accounts as a penalty for copyright infringement,” it says.

The Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF) submission also suggests that the involvement of the Copyright Tribunal in the process will be costly. Even if a regulatory impact assessment justifies that cost in the public interest, the TCF says, there will still be significant costs to the ISP.

If the government does go ahead with a system involving the tribunal, the TCF suggests that ISPs should be compensated, as they are when called on to assist a law-enforcement surveillance operation under the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act 2004.

Herron says the MED does not plan to release submissions that are not released independently, but will provide a digest of submissions on its website, probably towards the end of this month.

InternetNZ suggests that section 92A be directed only at deterring small-scale infringers.

“Commercial, large-scale infringement of copyright by any person or organisation is criminal behaviour and should remain subject to strong action by the courts and if necessary by the police,” the organisation says

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