There’s an interesting tussle going on in New Zealand concerning public access to the Internet in libraries. Like a number of European countries, New Zealand has been trying to implement a “three-strikes” law that would require Internet service providers (ISPs) to cut off the Internet to subscribers who are caught three times illegally downloading copyrighted materials. New Zealand first attempted such a law in 2008, but the legislation would have required ISPs to kick people offline based only on accusations of infringement, not convictions, and public outcry then forced the government to rethink the law. Now it’s back, but the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) is warning that the law as now written may compel libraries to disconnect their public Internet access. If you’re thinking none of this has any relation to the U.S., the fourth link below brings it back home.
- Library internet faces axe (New Zealand Herald/Hamish Fletcher) “Parliament passed changes to the Copyright Act last month allowing copyright holders to issue warnings to those believed to have illegally downloaded content. A third suspected infringement allows the rights owner to seek a court order to fine offenders $15,000. Under the law, which takes effect in September, libraries would end up paying the fine because the account owner was responsible for any illegal downloading.”
- Submission to the Ministry of Economic Development on Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Regulations 2011 [pdf] (LIANZA/Tony Millett) “This would hugely impede one of the major roles of libraries, which is to make information (including digital information) as widely and freely available as possible. Both the Aotearoa People’s Network, set up in public libraries to facilitate access to information and particularly to official and government information, and the latest rural broadband initiatives, will be seriously affected unless the new policies enforced by these regulations recognise best efforts by libraries to meet the spirit of the law.”
- New Zealand libraries considering shutting off public internet access to avoid three strikes law (Techdirt/Mike Masnick) “While various librarians insist they made this issue known to elected officials, the law makes no exception for operations like a library. That is, if three people in a library use the internet connection there for infringing purposes, the entire library may lose its internet access. Thus, in order to preserve internet access for those who work at the library, many New Zealand libraries are considering turning off internet access for the public.”
- American Embassy Wellington cable to U.S. Secretary of State, et al., 2009-04-03 (WikiLeaks) “Embassy will continue to stress with GNZ [Government of New Zealand] officials the need for a shorter rather than protracted timeline for the redraft and will ascertain the details of a notice and comment period for public submissions once released by GNZ. During this hiatus we’ve proposed holding DVC(s) [digital video conferences] between NZ and U.S. interlocutors to possibly help with drafting and as a public diplomacy tool to dispel public misperceptions about proper role of IPR [intellectual property rights] protection. U.S. agencies have the benefit of 10 years worth of experience in enforcing the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act that may serve useful to New Zealand officials in their effort to implement section 92A.”
The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa / Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa represents 448 public, educational, commercial, industrial, legal, health, and government libraries in New Zealand.