Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What If They Take Away Your Internet?

In the U.S. there is the dramshop rule where if you drink too much alcohol, the provider will cut you off. If a new law is passed in New Zealand, if you commit copyright infringement over the Internet, the court may order your internet service cut off.

It is always interesting to see how other countries handle the problems of copyright infringement. In most instances, governments cannot keep up with the technologies to create laws to prevent certain infringing activities before they develop.

This dilemma has been compounded by the Internet which allows the sharing (and copying) of copyrighted materials almost instantaneously.

For instance, in Canada, a copyright reform bill has been proposed to develop a system of copyright laws to catch up with technology. In New Zealand, a new bill proposes a court injunction to suspend copyright infringers’ internet service provider account for six months. (I am not sure this idea has been fully developed as it would be difficult to prevent someone from opening up a new internet account or obtaining a new computer or going to a library or internet cafĂ© for access.) Such a remedy would certainly face a high level of scrutiny in other places.

Internet access has been treated as a human right in countries such as France and Finland. It would seem more difficult to enforce a remedy such as the one proposed in New Zealand where broadband and wireless communications would make it difficult to track infringers who were denied internet access.

While the proposed remedy may be an effective tool to prevent copyright infringement over the Internet, whether this spreads to other countries remains to be seen.

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