Lawyer explains how to bypass file-sharing Act

Michael Wigley provides a brief guide to avoiding penalties during a recent industry event

While making a security-themed presentation on the new Copyright (Infringing File-Sharing) Amendment Act in Wellington, lawyer Michael Wigley was brief beyond the expectations of his audience.

If you are the account holder for an organisation running a network, he says, there are two things you can do to protect yourself from penalties under the Act. “Get all your IP addresses from APNIC [the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre] or stop all peer-to-peer traffic,” he said. “That’s my talk, thank you very much.”

As APNIC is an overseas organisation rather than a local ISP, it will not be obliged by the law to act on a request made by a content owner (typically a music publisher or film company) about allegedly copy-right-infringing downloads or uploads, Wigley said, elaborating on his simple message.

If three notices are served alleging offences and are not convincingly rebutted, because the company cannot trace the offender, then five-figure fines can be levied. The penalty provisions also include a clause allowing an organisation’s network to be shut down, if that provision is activated at some stage by an Order in Council.

“And it’s all about the customer of the ISP, which in our case is the corporation, not the end user,” Wigley said. “So you get stuck with [the consequences of infringing actions by] the ratbags in your office.”

But with an APNIC address, “for various technical reasons connected with the legislation, you’re not at risk of getting caught out.

“If you’re a city council or a university, with transient users or students using your network, this is the only way you can deal with it,” he told the meeting.

There was some discussion on whether a content-owner, even a major international movie or music company, would risk the bad publicity consequent on fining or disconnecting a local government body or university.

That was an unknown quantity, said Wigley.

Other attendees suggested that since the notice procedure hides the identity of an alleged offender from the accuser in the initial stages of an action, the content owner will not know it is dealing with a high-profile organisation until it is some way down the track towards prosecution.

Wigley acknowledged to Computerworld that IPv6 may offer a third solution, by allowing every staff member to be assigned an individual address, so the real culprit can be tracked and internal action taken before the matter gets to the Copyright Tribunal or court.

• Wigley’s address came in the course of a presentation by SonicWALL of its new “SuperMassive E10000 series of firewalls.” See also Telcos business model unsustainable: IDC principal

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