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Parliament last night debated under urgency a controversial bill designed to prevent illegal file sharing by Internet users, and it will be passed into law today.
The need to protect copyright material was recognised in 2008, when the previous Labour government introduced legislation which would have allowed internet users to be disconnected for repeat infringements.
That caused an outcry from user groups, and the current government put it on hold while it worked out a compromise.
The compromise, in the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill, was introduced in February last year and went through a long and contentious select committee process.
It allows copyright owners to send evidence of alleged infringements to internet service providers (ISPs), who will then send up to three infringement notices to the account holder.
If the warnings are ignored, the copyright owner can take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal and the tribunal can make awards of up to $15,000 against the account holder.
There is provision in the bill which would allow a copyright holder to apply through a court for suspension of service, but it won't come into force unless the Government considers the warning system isn't effective.
"Currently, copyright owners lack an effective enforcement measure against illegal file sharing," Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said last night, speaking in Parliament on behalf of Commerce Minister Simon Power.
"The compromise provides the right balance between internet users and an effective deterrent against file sharing."
Labour's Clare Curran said her party would support the bill, and acknowledged that the legislation introduced by the previous government had caused "a grand stoush".
"In coming years, the Internet will become increasingly more essential in our lives," she said.
"Disconnection is a disproportionate remedy for file sharing...this bill represents a better law, although I know it won't satisfy everyone."
The bill was being debated last night under urgency, called mainly to pass the Canterbury earthquake legislation.
The Government put several other bills on the urgency list which have been on the order paper for a long time, including the copyright legislation.
The bill went through its second reading, committee stage and most of its third reading stage last night.
It will be passed soon after Parliament resumes at 9am today.
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