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Old 19 Jul 2011, 05:46 PM   #1
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Default Google Argues For Changes To New Zealand Copyrght Law

New Zealand's new copyright laws has stirred controversy ever since it was voted through in parliament back in April (and about to come into effect in September), but now, tech giant Google is wading into the debate.

The recently passed amendments allows rights holders to ask ISPs, for a $25 fee, to send warnings to users suspected of pirating content, and if that user refuses to stop their activities, the rights holder can take the case to the Copyright Tribunal. The tribunal can fine the user up to $15,000.

But Google feels there are serious issues the law changes are overlooking. In submissions published recently, Google's major concern appears to be the "presumption of guilt" element of the law, going against the generally accepted principle of "innocent until proven guilty". When cases are brought up to the Copyright Tribunal, the legislation forces the tribunal to accept the mere allegations are fact of copyright infringement.

And according to Google's interpretation of the law, it means that even if the tribunal feels the rights holder do not have a strong case, they must rule against the alleged offender, as the legislation calls for them to "presume" guilt. Google argues that the tribunal should independently rule on whether infringement has occurred or not.

Google is also concerned that, since rights holders have resources at their disposal not available to that of the offender normally.

Other submissions, which include one from Juha Saarinen as an Associate Member of the NZ Computer Society, questioned the awarding of penalties to rights holders on content that is not for sale in New Zealand, arguing that "If the download caused no loss to the rights holder, the Tribunal cannot award penalties against the person accused of infringing."
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