Educators please note: we have now published practical advice for schools using YouTube videos to expand upon the educational exemptions of the NZ Copyright Act.
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New Zealand’s copyright laws were updated on the 1st September 2011 with the introduction of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011.
The wording of the new Act says it:
“provides rights owners with a special regime for taking enforcement action against people who infringe copyright through file sharing”
It is quite specific because it only applies to infringing material (protected by copyright) which is uploaded or downloaded via file sharing applications or networks.
Does this law apply to YouTube and streaming content from websites?
NetSafe has recently been inundated with enquiries from people worried that they may be breaking the new law by watching or downloading movies or audio from popular video sharing site YouTube or using other websites to watch streaming TV shows or movies.
Our advice to date has been simple:
- This new law only covers peer-to-peer file sharing and YouTube seems to fall outside of the Act.
- However, the existing Copyright Act 1994 has always given the creator of a work ownership rights over who can use their works and how they can be used and this Act can still be used to take action on other forms of copyright infringement in New Zealand.
- Downloading videos from YouTube has always been a breach of the site’s Terms of Service (Tos) and New Zealand users should be aware of penalties in the US and action taken to protect copyrighted material uploaded and hosted on the video streaming site.
In short then if you are downloading videos from YouTube you may very well be breaking copyright law in NZ or the US (unless the site provides a Download link or the content is available under a Creative Commons licence that permits copying/reuse).
How am I breaking the YouTube Terms of Service?
When you use any website you are normally making use of the content or services under Terms and Conditions published on the site – even if you never read those conditions of use. For YouTube the important statements are currently paragraphs 4C and 5B (September 2011):
- You agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Service itself, the Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate.
- You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content. You shall not copy, reproduce, make available online or electronically transmit, publish, adapt, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content.
Will I be warned, fined or prosecuted for doing this?
At the time of writing (mid September 2011) there have been no recorded incidents of internet users being sent an infringement notice under the new Act – many people have however modified their downloading behaviour due to concerns over fines.
Copyright remains a complex area for NetSafe to give guidance on and we will try to revise our website resources as issues develop. For now it is safer to respect international copyright laws, only access and download content you believe the creator is willing and has the rights to share with you (in both paid and free formats) and be aware of terms and conditions of use for websites where you find popular content.