New Zealand Passes '3 Strikes' Anti-piracy Law

AUCKLAND — New Zealand's Parliament on Thursday voted into law tough new sanctions against those who share files over the Internet.

The new "three strikes" piracy law, which passed 111-11, allows copyright owners to send evidence of alleged infringements ISPs, which will then send up to three infringement notices to account holders.

If the warnings are ignored, the copyright owner can take a claim to New Zealand's Copyright Tribunal, where the panel can set judgments up to $11,733 (U.S.) against each account holder.

Another provision in the law allows copyright holders to eventually apply through a court to have alleged repeat offenders' connections suspended for six months, with or without a conviction or proof.

The bill, the National Government's compromise solution to the controversial Section 92A illegal file sharing legislation in 2009, was debated Wednesday night, passing in a second reading Thursday morning.

Called the Government's Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill, the piece of legislation was supported by all New Zealand political parties except the Greens and independent members of Parliament Chris Carter and Hone Harawira.

Reaction against the law has been waged by various groups, including one called Opposing The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill, which has a Facebook following of 2,000 at post time.

Opponents argue the law means Internet surfers could be disconnected without sufficient proof of charges and that it might unfairly punish businesses or families when the downloading was done without their knowledge by an employee or family member or by someone hacking into their connection.

But the new law is a plus for adult studios and distributors, who have for years complained about pirated movies being traded online, particularly using BitTorrent networks, depriving them of millions in revenue.