The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act: What schools should know


Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act

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.

There are two concepts there – first, the material has to be infringing, second the infringing material has to be file shared.

What does “infringing” mean?

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to copy, play, share , distribute or adapt that work, or to permit anyone else to do it.

If anyone else copy’s shares or distributes a copyright protected work, without the permission of the copyright holder, then they are infringing on the owners copyright.

The act relates to the uploading or downloading of a piece of work in a file sharing network that infringes the copyright in that work.

What is “file sharing”?

In the law, file sharing is defined as:

“where –

“(a) material is uploaded via, or downloaded from, the Internet using an application or network that enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users; and

“(b) uploading and downloading may, but need not, occur at the same time”

The focus of The Act is primarily peer to peer (P2P) technologies that allow multiple people to share a file across the internet at the same time.  When an infringing file (e.g. movie or music file) is uploaded or downloaded using this type of network or application the legislation has been contravened.

Not all file sharing is illegal. For example, if you create an original work, and choose to share it across a file sharing (peeer-to-peer) network, then you are not breaking the law as you are the rights owner.

Examples of activity which contravenes the new law

  • Using BitTorrent client software to download material protected by copyright.
  • Using peer-to-peer software (e.g. Shareza, Frostwire, Transmission) to share files protected by copyright over a peer-to-peer network (e.g. Gnutella or BitTorrent)

Examples of activity which does not contravene the new law

  • Viewing media on web based streaming services (such as YouTube)
  • Participating in a video conversation using software which uses peer-to-peer technology (e.g. Skype


  1. Devlin7 says:


    So viewing Youtube clips online is fine even if the media is copyrighted. However, if staff use a website like or any of the million sites that allow the downloading of youtube clips, it will now be illegal.

    When you watch youtube, a file is created on your local machine and this file is either kept or destroyed depending on what internet browser or OS you are using. I assume that if when you stop watching the video clip, if the file is destroyed you are legal. If, however, your browser or OS doesn’t delete the clip you are infringing copyright.

    At the end of the day it is up to the owner of the file start the legal fight but oh what a fight it would be .

    I don’t see how this is ever going to be policed.

    • Chris Hails says:

      Hi, thanks for the question. This amendment to the copyright law is very specific – it deals entirely with peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. YouTube and online file lockers seem to fall outside of the changes.

      If someone posts a video on YouTube which is protected by copyright, then it is the person who posts the video that has breached the copyright, not those watching the video.

      When someone downloads or takes a copy of a video from YouTube, and that video is protected by copyright then they are in breach of copyright law. That has always been the case – no changes to the law today have made any difference to that situation.

      It is also worth noting that making copies of videos from YouTube is in breach (and always has been) of YouTube’s terms and conditions of use.

    • Dave says:

      Agreed Sean – downloading youtube clips has always broken youtube’s usage agreement. It has not suddenly become illegal. You are able to embed youtube video but not supposed to download. Note: this is not file sharing!

  2. Devlin7 says:

    Thanks Chris for clarifying.

  3. skotii says:

    Thanks for providing more info. A question regarding such sites as “project free tv, teh cake, and blinkx remote”. If i watch an episode, not download, this is the same as youtube?

    • Chris Hails says:

      Yes, the new amendment to the law that came in to force on 1st September is only focused on users operating peer to peer services to download copyrighted files. The content on many online streaming sites is questionable at best in terms of copyright – I can’t comment on those particular services you’ve listed – but under the Act you are watching online, ‘streaming’, not using P2P.

  4. Laetitia says:

    Can I just check – downloading stuff off you tube using save 2pc is that legal still?

    • Sean Lyons says:

      What you are describing, doesn’t appear to fall under this law, but it may be in breach of youtube’s terms and conditions. Its also worth remembering that once you have downloaded a copy, if its protected by a copyright, you may be in breach of other parts of the copyright act.

  5. mesh says:

    hey ,,,

    How can i know that the video is protected under copy right …like when i download a movie or something how could i know !!!

    and when i download a video or a show does it give me a warning that i have breached the law !! so how can i know that i breached the law

    and what would happen when i do illegal downloading …

    • Sean Lyons says:

      If you are unsure, the best thing to do is contact the rights holder directly. A quick google search should tell you how to contact them.

  6. Janet says:

    What about downloading from websites eg sendspace and fileshare
    would that breach the law?

    • Sean Lyons says:

      Using websites like the ones mentioned, sometimes called online file lockers, seems to fall outside of the amendment to the law. However, the other parts of the copyright law still remain! Copyright holders still have rights to take action against you if you download protected material without their permission.

  7. Karen Leahy says:

    If a YouTube clip is under Creative Commons, can it then be copied? I want to show some YouTube clips but dont want to put an audience through the long wait you can have for a clip to finish loading.

    • Sean Lyons says:

      If a clip has been created and shared under a creative commons license, then as long as you don’t violate the terms of that license you are ok. See for more details. It is worth noting that saving files from youtube to your computer appears to breach youtube’s terms and conditions however.

  8. Lexi says:

    Hi I would like to know if keepvid (youtube video downloads) falls under the new law?
    I have heard from many people that downloading youtube videos are not illegal.

    • Sean Lyons says:

      Hello. You are correct in thinking that the changes to the law are not focused on YouTube. This is because if a video is placed on YouTube which breaches copyright, then the rights holder can contact YouTube and ask for it to be taken down. However it is worth noting that as soon as you make a copy of the video using a service like the one you mentioned you may then be in breach of copyright regulations, and you are in breach of YouTube’s terms and conditions.

      • Coleman says:

        So, what you are saying is that if i download a video from Youtube on, i wont be breaking the new ‘3’ strike law but only the youtube t&c ? because i wouldn’t mind spending 50c per song on itunes, but they put the price up to $2.80, thats ridiculous.

        • Chris Hails says:

          Hi Coleman, thanks for your comment. I think you’ve highlighted the real issue here around internet downloading and an often perceived lack of legal options for buying film and audio content in NZ. In fact the Listener magazine highlighted the the price difference you mention a couple of weeks ago and the issue of ‘geoblocking’ where markets are often priced differently. That’s not to say NetSafe would encourage you to breach copyright and T&Cs downloading.

          Obviously the small NZ market is never going to appeal to as many businesses that want to focus on 300m+ possible shoppers in the US. I do think business models are changing though and will reach NZ given time – have a read of TradeMe Mike O’Donnell’s opinion piece in the Dominion Post:

  9. jade says:

    hello i havent really gotten a clear answer sorry if its repeated and has already been asked/ answered but i want to know if i would be breaking the new law and would get a warning notice if i was to use video2mp3 a youtube audio converter to get songs off youtube?


  10. james says:

    These informations are very valuable. No P2P sharing and no downloading copyright files. I get it..

  11. Scotty says:

    Sorry to raise this up if it is already pass discussion but i’m still confused on the file locker thingy. Lets say i download a movie or a song from a website that a person from somewhere have uploaded the file to a storage website such as mediafire and link it to his web site, is that illegal or not? cause it sound like that it is not covered in the law unless i’m totally wrong?

    • Chris Hails says:

      Hi Scotty – the new law passed in 2011 deals specifically with peer to peer networks and so it doesn’t address file lockers or downloading copyrighted files in that format.

      The existing New Zealand copyright law however will cover the issue of copyright ownership and infringement in other forms – if the files you download are pirated then your actions are covered under the 1994 Act if the owner of the original work chose to take action against you. There are of course issues around jurisdiction to consider too should the file be located on a server outside of New Zealand.

  12. kiki says:


    Can I watch the online video that provided by the online video service provider, such as PPS (

    Many thanks


    • Chris Hails says:

      Hi Kiki, I can’t confirm the source of that content as it would appear to be a Chinese streaming feed. The real issue is for you to confirm if the provider has the right to make that available online. Streaming is not covered by the new Amendment Act so the new regime would not cover you watching that site for example.

  13. Thompson says:

    If I download files from and similar websites (i believe they are called file-lockers). will I be affected by the 3 strike law or wont it have anything to do with the new law. and why is it people downloading that get penalised and not the people who upload them getting penalised, cause it is very easy to download an illegal file without knowing.

  14. Aldrin says:

    What if I downloaded movies or TV shows through torrents but neither made copies, share to other people nor upload them to other P2P sites but instead just use them for personal use, and delete them after, would that still be breaking the 2011 act?

    • Chris Hails says:

      Hi Aldrin, yes I believe you would be breaking the law in this example: you’re torrenting or using peer to peer software which the amendment act specifies as the transfer tool.

      The real issue is not ‘personal use’ but copyright of the files themselves. If the owner has made the files available with a licence format like Creative Commons or GPU with stated terms of re/use then fine. But if the files are normally paid for or owned by an individual or company that has not explicitly stated you can download them to watch then that act is breaking the law – even if you don’t share or upload them.

      • Aldrin says:

        I asked this because I watch Anime, which is a Japanese television animation, but since I can’t understand the language, sites (eg.,,, etc.) sub the Japanese TV shows for me and for other viewers to understand. These sites DO NOT USE THESE VIDEOS FOR PROFIT which means they are free. And I think that the Anime shows are not copyrighted, and since they upload the videos that they sub, I could download them but they are downloaded using peer to peer software or through P2P sites. Would that still break the law?

        Because I’am not sure if the law states that it is illegal to download using peer to peer software or that the problem is the file you are downloading is a copyrighted file.

        • Chris Hails says:

          Hi Aldrin, the new law is not designed to prevent you using peer to peer software completely – many people can use torrenting for software and other files that are completely legal. The onus is on you to be certain you are not infringeing copyright and should your ISP send you a notice under the new regime you’d need to be able to prove your innocence.

          P2P is not illegal – it’s the content that is shared via the mechanism that is the issue and target of the law.

  15. Mrs says:

    helloo i want to know that i wanna see a show on you tube which is bigg boss its a indian show (and it has not been aired in nz ) if i only see it in youtube does it is illegal as well ??

    • Chris Hails says:

      If you’re watching videos on YouTube the responsibility for copyright infringement I believe is with the video uploader

  16. Mrs says:

    thanks for the answer so it means i can watch it in youtube n will not be against the law (sorry to ask u again but i feel it so confusing )

  17. Mrs says:

    and one more thing the videos on you tube for the show bigg boss has “Standard YouTube License”
    does it is against the law to watch it ??

  18. Hash says:

    There are plenty of sites (forums, etc) which provides a url to file being hosted on a file sharing server like 4shared or rapidshare. If someone posts a url in such forums or any other website. who will be held responsible for this either the forum owner (forum domain owner) or the person who shares file in the forum/site. Considering the shared material is subjected to copy right.

    Please note these forums/sites clearly mentions, “they are not responsible to check copy rights for any material” which is shared. Could you please answer this.


  19. reiko says:

    I have a software called videoget in my Iphone. I paid for the particular software and got it through App store. So if i get the videos from that particular application,is it legal or illegal?

    • Chris Hails says:

      Hi Reiko, the app you mention appears to be developed by Nuclear Coffee outside of iTunes or badged as VideoGet for Facebook in iTunes for paid download.

      A quick look would suggest to me the application is designed to copy video files shared on social networking sites – the fact you paid for the app does not mean the process is legal and in fact unless you are certain of the origin of the files and who owns the copyright and has permission to share the content I’d suggest you’re likely to be breaking copyright law in some jurisdiction and also the terms of service of the website.

  20. mat_tee says:

    Hi, reading through all the comments, they all seem to be focused on copying/downloading material.

    The question I have is, Technically, could I be prosecuted just for watching a stream from any site, if the material being streamed is copyrighted? (eg. the latest film, or last nights t.v show).

    If I were to be watching (streaming, not downloading) a latest blockbuster using Xbox Media Center, for example, Am I breaking the law?

    • Chris Hails says:

      Hi, there is a lot of uncertainty about the new copyright law which came into force last September – that Act covers peer to peer technology to download files shared online and doesn’t explicitly cover streaming movies or TV shows. However existing New Zealand copyright law may well cover this type of copyright infringement. What we are seeing at present though is a focus by rights holders on the companies and individuals (in the case of Kim Dotcom and MegaUpload) connected with the hosting of these streams and the publication of links, etc. The US is going after people globally to protect copyright so you do need to be aware of what you are doing online may well be trackable by your ISP and others internationally.

  21. Van Damn says:

    Kia ora our local school is fundraising to go to the National kapa Haka Competitions we have translated a popular hymn into Maori and made a few minor musical adjustments. Can we post this on a site like pledge me and ask for support if we add a disclaimer and acknowledge the original composer?

    • Sean Lyons says:

      The quick answer is I’m not sure. In theory, if the song is still under copyright then you strictly speaking need to get the permission of the rights owners to do this. However, considering the context in which you want to use it, I can’t see this being a problem. Have you attempted to contact the writer?

      • Van Damn says:

        Not yet but I found this on youtube . Music video by Leonard Cohen performing Hallelujah. (C) 2009 Sony Music Entertainment Category Music License Standard YouTube License He has an offical website so I will send him a message and see what happens. Thanks for your help

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