What is the Copyright (infringing file sharing) Amendment act?

The new law states that it “provide rights owners with a special regime for taking enforcement action against people who infringe copyright through file sharing”

It is quite specific because it only applies to infringing material which is uploaded or downloaded via file sharing applications or networks.

There are two concepts there – first, the material has to be infringing. The wording of the law describes infringement as;

“an incidence of file sharing that involves the infringement of copyright in a work by a user”

Copyright describes a set of exclusive rights that are given to owners in relation to their creations. Here in New Zealand, copyright is an automatic right, which doesn’t need to be registered by the owner, it exist as soon as something is created, performed or published, as long as the work is original, and comes under one of the qualifying categories;

  • literary works including text like emails, training manuals, novels and song lyrics; tables and compilations including multimedia works, and computer programs
  • dramatic works including dance, mime and film scenarios or scripts
  • musical works including the score and sheet music
  • artistic works including paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, models, photographs and sculptures
  • sound recordings separate to the actual music or story
  • films for any genre or format, separate from the underlying script, music or broadcast
  • communication works including radio and television broadcasts and internet webcasts
  • typographical arrangements of published editions

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to copy, play, share , distribute or adapt that work, or to permit anyone else to do it.

If anyone else copy’s shares or distributes a copyright protected work, without the permission of the copyright holder, then they are infringing on the owners copyright.

There are some exceptions to this, such as limited copying of documents for use in a Library, or the copying of a work for its translation into Braille, or where the sound recording is for personal use (sometimes called format shifting)

Secondly, that infringing material has to be file shared. In the law, file sharing is defined as:

“where—
“(a) material is uploaded via, or downloaded from, the Internet using an application or network that enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users; and
“(b) uploading and downloading may, but need not, occur at the same time”

The target here is primarily p2p, something which allows multiple people to share a file over the internet at the same time. When you upload or download an infringing file (a piece of music, a film, a piece of software or a book for example) using that sort of network or application, then you are caught under this legislation.

Not all file sharing is illegal. If you create original work, and choose to share it across the internet, then you are not breaking the law. Creative commons provides a system of open licensing which allows individuals to protect their copyright while allowing the free exchange of their work. You can find out more about New Zealand’s Creative Commons licensing by visiting their website at http://www.creativecommons.org.nz/