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Copyright Bill: Website Owners & ISPS Beware

3 August 2006

Website Owners & ISPS Beware

(Auckland, New Zealand)---The Commerce Committee has reviewed and recommended passing the Copyright (New Technologies and Performers’ Rights) Amendment Bill requiring, among other things, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) ‘to delete or prevent access to’ information on a website that is known to be a copyright infringement. However, in an effort to assist with the management of copyright infringement online, have the Commerce Committee’s recommendations infringed upon the rights and obligations of website owners and ISPs?

Basically, under section 92, the bill states that if someone goes to an ISP and reports that one of the ISP’s customers has content on their website that infringes on copyright, the ISP must ‘as soon as possible’ delete the material or prevent access to it and give notice to the customer of such actions. It is then up to the ISP’s customer and the person that reported the copyright infringement to settle the copyright matter through legal means. What are the repercussions? For the website owner it means a loss of their website until such time as the copyright issue is resolved; for the ISP it means the added burden of policing customer websites and potentially losing customers as a result; and for the person that reports a copyright infringement and it’s found to be false, there is a fine not exceeding $50,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a body corporate.

ISP and Managed Hosting specialist ICONZ contributed to InternetNZ’s (The Internet Society of New Zealand) submissions on the proposed amendments. In line with InternetNZ, ICONZ prefered the option of a ‘notice-notice’ where website owners have the right to rectify copyright infringement versus the proposed ‘notice-takedown’ where ISPs are required to delete or prevent access to sites before the owner has the opportunity to change the content.

“The role of the ISP/Hosting organisation is not to police the Internet, but to provide the infrastructure for communications via the Internet,” says ICONZ COO Sean Weekes. “The proposed amendments take away the burden of proof required prior to most legal actions and gives freedom to those looking to restrict that of others under the guise of copyright.”

How can you ensure that your website doesn’t infringe on someone else’s copyright material? According to Copyright Council of New Zealand, copyright law protects the expression of ideas or information, but not the ideas or information itself. So you can certainly put up information on your website about cats (general topic that can’t be copyrighted), but you can’t post information on your site about cats in the same context and manner as someone else has. You can gain permission of the person to use their words and it is legal to use someone’s work without permission for criticism, review, news reporting, research, private study, educational and public administration purposes.

ICONZ is one of New Zealand’s first internet service providers, offering internet connectivity and solutions for business and residential customers throughout New Zealand. ICONZ provides customers with reliable, cost-effective networking solutions while delivering the highest levels of service and support. The ICONZ Group brings together a collection of brands and services including: Freeparking, WebFarm, and For more information on ICONZ, please visit


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