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Disconnection Must Go, Says InternetNZ

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Disconnection Must Go, Says InternetNZ

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) today made a presentation to Parliament's Commerce Select Committee, explaining its detailed submission on the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill and issuing a strong call for disconnection to be removed as a penalty.

Echoing the majority of Internet industry submitters, InternetNZ Policy Director Jordan Carter says "disconnection needs to be removed from this Bill. It needs to go on pragmatic and on principled grounds."

"A disconnection penalty is a response way out of line with the harm caused by infringing file sharing. People are using the Internet for a huge range of important economic and social tasks. Cutting off their accounts is akin to banning someone from using the postal system because they were caught posting copied music CDs.

"Nobody would think that was fair. As a matter of good law, penalties for a wrong should be proportionate. The rest of the Bill, with notices and financial penalties, is reasonable. Account disconnection is not.

"In pragmatic terms, disconnection is ineffective because people generally have Internet access from a range of accounts. They also would easily be able to sign up with another ISP with no penalty.

"Disconnection is both wrong in principle, and likely to be ineffective. These two factors together indicate it should be removed as a penalty.

"Doing so would allow the role of the District Court to be removed from the legislation, leaving it to focus on serious crime and saving the taxpayer money.

"The remaining parts of the Bill will set up a notices system that helps educate the public as to the problems of copyright infringement, and how they can obtain material legitimately.

"Getting that education, finding out they are being monitored, and knowing if infringing continues that they face the risk of serious financial penalties in the Copyright Tribunal, is more than sufficient to deal with infringing file sharing.

"I hope that Parliament considers the widespread opposition to disconnection, the lack of need for it, and deletes those parts of the Bill," concludes Carter.

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