New Zealand Reworks Three Strikes Plan

New Zealand will introduce new legislation to Parliament in 2010 seeking to address the illegal downloading and sharing of copyrighted material over the Internet.

Commerce Minister Simon Power indicated that his government favored a three-strike process for infringers, which is outlined in a Cabinet paper (PDF). The new proposal adds in full court hearings and possible fines, replacing a previously proposed measure, which drew criticism, that would have allowed suspected infringers to have their Internet connections terminated without any court oversight.

The new and reworked plan, which usurps the earlier proposed legislation, consists of first allowing rights holders to request that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) give alleged infringers notice to stop their illegal activity. A first notice would warn of infringement and could be followed by up to two more notices.

Following the third notice, the right holder could seek penalties of up to $15,000 at a Copyright Tribunal. If “serious and continued” infringement is continued, rights holders could request a court hearing that might include a six-month Internet account suspension. Those accused can issue counter notices and can also request a hearing.

Powers said that he was, “confident we now have a workable solution.” He added, “A great deal of work has gone into finding a fair, effective, and credible process for the enforcement of copyright against illegal peer-to-peer file-sharers.”

As part of the proposed plan, ISPs will be required to identify an IP address and match it to an account holder, retain subscriber Internet use data for 20 working days and retain data on infringements for a minimum of 12 months.

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