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A new month, a new law

1 September 2011

The much discussed and reviled changes to NZ's copyright laws take effect today and from this point on, regular P2P users who dare to download copyrighted material without the permission of the owners may find themselves in trouble.

Under the "3-strikes" provision of the Copyright Act, ISPs will have to act as enforcement agents for copyright holders, something they say could cost them a small fortune -- even though they can pass on some of the costs to the complainant.

If you're a regular P2P user and TV shows, movies or music are your preference, don't be surprised if there's already an infringement notice on its way to you -- despite the fact that you may not have downloaded a single illegal byte this month.

That's because, even though the law only comes into effect today, music and movie studios reportedly started tracking offenders last month and are planning to act on that information immediately.

Only time will now tell whether the fears of those opposed to the law will be realised.

Many have voiced concerns that those operating shared Internet connections may find themselves unfairly penalised as a result of this new law.

Libraries, public WiFi and even households using wireless connectivity could end up being falsely accused of copyright infringement if, unknown to them, somebody uses their connection to perform illegal downloads.

Reports indicate that at least initially, only P2P users will be targeted by the copyright owners. Knowing how innovative the internet community is, I have no doubt that new strategies will be adopted by those with half a brain.

Anonymising proxy-servers operated in jurisdictions not subject to NZ law may become a popular option for many hard-core "consumers" of affected media -- and these are certainly not hard to find.

As is so often the case with these things, it's probably those who least deserve to be pinged (the casual and rather naive user) who'll end up getting hammered by the law. Meanwhile, the real hard-core offenders will continue their activities with impunity.

The copyright owners won't care of course -- this move is as much to scare the public into compliance as it is to catch and punish offenders.

Now that would be a great strategy if it weren't for one thing -- a huge percentage of those who are illegally downloading this stuff are spotty-faced teens. If you've got kids of your own or aren't too old to remember, ask yourself what the average teenager does when told to "do this"...

That's right, they'll do anything but "this". They'll do "that", they'll do "the other", they'll do whatever they damned well want to. It's the way that teens show they're growing up -- by rebelling against authority and directives dished out by those who think they have authority over them.

Once again, the recording and movie industries show that they really need to get their head out of that box and start thinking about how to leverage these eager consumers in a way that earns rather than costs them money.

Come on people -- it's really not that hard and, whether you like it or not, you will eventually have to adapt to the changing market -- or die.

As a footnote -- the headless Labour party has announced this week that it would repeal the 3-strikes provision of the new law. What a bunch of tossers. Much of this stupid law is their doing and they actually voted for it back in April. It seems this is a political party that really has lost the plot and is grasping at any straw in the lead-up to the November elections.

Remember the word "aardvarkrox" when you go to sign up for the new forums (yeah, I know I haven't customised it yet but bear with me ;-)

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