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Tuesday, 21 November 2017 11:49 am

Copyright law baffles public and tech heads

CONFUSED PIRATES and ordinary citizens alike have been filling the switchboard at an internet safety organisation, in the wake of new copyright legislation.

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act came into effect on September 1, but people phoning the service are still confused as to what exactly it covers.

NetSafe chief technology officer Sean Lyons says he has fielded “a million” calls from citizens worried about being liable under the new law.

While there is a lot of information out there, people are still confused about what the new law means, he says.

Whitireia New Zealand student Tennessee Mansford (pictured, above) is confused about the new law, and believes there has not been enough information in the media about exactly what is illegal.

Often very technical language is used in coverage of the issue, she says, and people need to have things set out for them more simply.

“I’ve read a few things on Twitter, but I’m not that well-informed and I feel everyone needs to know a lot more.”

Mr Lyons says that there is no single body whose job it is to educate the public about the details of the new law.

Mr Lyons says that NetSafe has been doing its best to answer people’s questions, and have also taken the opportunity to educate callers about internet security more generally.

“If you don’t have the skills to secure a wireless access point you should be asking yourself why you are using one.”

Lobby group Internet New Zealand, which partly funds NetSafe, has set up 3strikes (3strikes.net.nz) to help people understand the new law.

Building researcher Anna Geddes also believes the public has not been properly informed about the new law.

“I had to ask my techie friends what I can and can’t do now,” she says, “the most worrying thing they told me was that you can’t even have a torrent program installed without getting detected.”

Internet New Zealand chief executive Vikram Kumar says many in the technical community are also confused about how exactly the new law will work.

“If the technical community is only just getting to grips with this, I doubt the government would be able to understand it.”

Under the new system, copyright holders can lodge a complaint against users whose IP addresses they find participating in illegal downloads.

Streaming video sites are not covered by the new law.

There is no monitoring of normal internet traffic, or direct download sites such as MediaFire and Rapidshare.

A study commissioned by anti-piracy company Envisional found that piracy accounts for nearly 18% of all internet traffic.

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is A Journalism Student at Whitireia in Wellington, New Zealand. His specialty areas are digital culture, politics and cyber-crime.
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