The recent changes to Copyright law have been operational for a short while and there is mixed feedback from the Internet Providers on whether or not New Zealand internet users have paid heed to the risks.

What are the risks?

A fine of up to $15,000.00 for peer to peer file sharing, payable by the person or entity who holds the account with the internet provider.

What is peer to peer file sharing?

Peer to peer file sharing is when internet users download or upload from each other by using an application or network where they do not pay for copyrighted materials such as films, music, books, television programmes or games.

How do I know if this is happening?

We understand that common sites are Bit Torrent, Gnutella, Vuze, FrostWire, LimeWire … however school aged children are the experts in this field.  If your children, staff or members are using these sites you may be in danger.

Sites like YouTube do not breach the laws because they are video streaming and not file sharing.

How do you protect yourself against peer to peer file sharing?

If you are the internet account holder it is up to you to stay vigilant and be aware of what is happening on your internet service, as you are legally responsible and the accountable party.

There are a number of computer solutions that can help protect you, and we recommend you talk to a computer expert about ensuring that your wireless connection is secure and about options for blocking certain sites and software.

From a legal point of view, we recommend:

  • If you are an employer, ensure you have a clear policy around peer to peer file sharing and that your employees or others that may use your system know and understand your policy, and they have signed an agreement to comply with the policy.
  • If you are a school, hotel, membership organization, charity, or any entity that allows people access to your internet connection, make sure those people are aware of the law, and do not provide them access to the internet unless and until they sign an indemnity against any cost their internet use causes you.  In the case of schools, you may require an indemnity from the parents or legal guardians.

For those interested the relevant legislation is The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011.

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