Internet protests have started in New Zealand after its government this morning passed a controversial "three strikes" filesharing bill under urgency.
The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill gives media companies the right to accuse people of infringing copyright, with offenders to be fined up to $15,000 by a new Copyright Tribunal.
The "three strikes" bill replaces the abandoned Section 92a of the Copyright Act, devised by the former Labour government.
Campaigns, including an internet blackout protest from people angry that the early legislation would have allowed internet users to be cut-off, led the current government to work out a compromise.
A new bill, which began its parliamentary process last February, 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 alleged offending continues, the copyright owner can take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal, which can fine the account holder up to $15,000.
The bill includes a power for a district court to suspend an internet account for up to six months, in appropriate circumstances. However, this is not intended to be used unless the notice process and the remedies by the Copyright Tribunal are ineffective.
The third reading of the bill was passed by backed by the main parties, excluding the Greens and two independent MPs. The bill is due to come into effect on 1 September.
"Online copyright infringement has been damaging for the creative industry, which has experienced significant declines in revenue as file sharing has become more prevalent. This legislation will discourage illegal file sharing and provide more effective measures to help our creative industries enforce their copyright," Commerce Minister Simon Power said today.
However, opponents say disconnections could still be made without sufficient proof of who was guilty.
A Facebook campaign opposing the bill has attracted more than 2000 supporters.
Twitter and Facebook users are also protesting by "blacking out" their avatars by changing the images into black squares and tweeting using the hashtag #blackout.