When Should the Bell Toll? The Economics of New Zealand's Debate on Indirect Liability for Internet Copyright Infringement
31 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2008
This article evaluates proposed changes to New Zealand's copyright legislation in respect of potential secondary liability for copyright infringement by Internet service providers. Minor changes were envisaged in order to align the legislation with new international standards, with limitation of ISP liability along the lines of the UK Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 recommended. Both zero liability and strict liability for web-hosting ISPs are correctly rejected, but the proposed uniform regulatory approach provides limited incentives for ISP monitoring effort and while proposed knowledge-based standards should largely prevent excessive permanent removal of legitimate material, the constructive knowledge test may be insufficient to encourage the removal of many infringing items. The counter-notification procedure may not prevent liability-conscious ISPs from removing excessive legitimate material on a temporary basis, and more radical solutions involving ISP purchase of their subscribers' posted material or compulsory ISP purchase of copyrights did not feature. The design of optimal copyright law is fraught with difficulties, however, and the Ministry's consultative processes and careful deliberations have done much to maintain a reasonable balance between the conflicting interests concerned.
Keywords: internet, copyright infringement
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