What are my rights and responsibilities under the new Copyright Act?


Copyright questions

Your responsibilites

This law makes you responsible for everything that goes on on your internet account. Infringing file sharing is against the law. As an account holder you must make informed decisions about how you use copyright protected material.

Our advice would be to only use the material that you know you have the rights to use.

Anyone that is given access to the internet, using your account (family members, friends or vistors) could use that access to file share, either knowingly or by mistake. If this does occur, they are not liable for it. As the account holder, you are.

If you have wireless internet access set up in your home or workplace, and the access is not properly secured, then there is a possibility that others could access your internet account in order to engage in file sharing activities. Once again, you would be responsible.

As the account holder, it is your responsibility to ensure that your internet account is secure, and any wireless access points are also secured. If you need more information on how to secure internet access in your home or work place, go to for further advice.

Your rights: Challenging notices

If you receive a notice that alleges file infringing and you do not accept that you have done so, you can challenge the notice.

The way to do this is explained in the notice, and involves you replying to the organisation that sent you the notice (your ISP) using whatever system they have. This may be by return email or via a form on their website. You also have the right to respond directly to the copyright owner or their agent if you wish.

Your rights: The Copyright Tribunal

If you have received the three notices set out under this regime you can be taken to the Copyright Tribunal.

The Tribunal is a government body that can determine whether the evidence that says you infringed copyright stacks up, and then impose penalties on you – of up to $15,000.

Like other Tribunals the aim of it (compared with a Court) is to be fairly informal and low key. This means that there are no lawyers involved – you are able to represent yourself at the Tribunal if you like.

The Tribunal can make decisions based on papers, that is, without a real life meeting with you and with rights holders.

If you are notified that a rights holder is taking proceedings against you in the Tribunal, but think you have not infringed copyright, you have to say so to the Tribunal.

If you don’t raise any objection, then the Tribunal is entitled to treat the allegations against you as fact.

Read more about the Copyright Tribunal on the Ministry of Justice website.


  1. Vinnie says:

    We like to stream movies from Is this considered illegal? It is not downloading it is streaming.
    Thanks NetSafe – great job!

    • Chris Hails says:

      Hi Vinnie, thanks for the question, I’ll answer with what we’ve stated on other copyright questions. This amendment to the copyright law is very specific – it deals entirely with peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. YouTube, online file lockers and streaming services 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 have made any difference to that situation.

      The content on many streaming sites is questionable at best in terms of copyright – I can’t comment on the particular service you listed – but under the Act you are watching online, ‘streaming’, not using P2P.

  2. Mark says:

    I am wondering about this as a parent of a child who has to use a
    computer at school.

    Our child arrived home with an addition to the Acceptable Use Policy
    Agreement for computers.

    It contained the following sentence for the Parent or Guardian to sign

    “I accept I will be liable for any fines and/or fees imposed on the
    school as a result of my son/daughter’s illegal actions.”

    Not signing the form with this clause, means that the child has
    restricted access. They are prevented from using browser to research
    topics on the net and from using internet based web applications such as

    Most parents have signed. But having read information on this site and, to have to consent to such an open ended statement
    seems a little bit over the top to me.

    Any thoughts?


    • Sean Lyons says:

      Thanks for the comment. We can’t comment on this use agreement directly, but we have sought our own legal advise in terms of how we should word any changes to our own use agreement, and I thought that feedback might be useful to you.

      We are looking at making a change to our template use agreement which we supply to schools. It will now include the following wording in the student agreement

      I will not download music, video, software (e.g. apps) or other material from file sharing networks using the schools network unless I have permission from the copyright owner.

      We are also considering adding the following to the parent section of the use agreement

      I understand that the school may recover from me any fees or fines resulting from the actions of my child on the school network

      This is a little different from the clauses you have posted here, but there is a similar sentiment. The copyright Tribunal has the ability to award up to $15 000 of damages to a rights holder per infringement. Figures like these quite rightly worry schools. There wouldn’t be many schools who can happily make contingency for these kind of fines in their budget without it having a serious impact on teaching and learning resources.

      From a parents perspective, I am sure the idea of a bill for $15 000 arriving alongside the school donation request is equally worrying. I think as a parent you are quite within your rights to question what steps the school is taking to minimise the chance of this type of thing happening on the school network. I also think you should ask what the school is doing to provide education and support around this issue to staff, students and parents to also try to minimise the occurrence of such breaches of the law. There is support available for schools in these aspects from various sources, and by contacting NetSafe, we can help schools through the process.

      I hope this was useful, although I am not sure if I have answered your questions directly. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  3. Mark says:

    Hi Sean

    Thanks for the informative reply.

    The problem is how does the Account Holder allocate “fees or fines
    resulting from the actions of my child on the school network”?

    For example, suppose child A triggers the first warning to the school.
    Then after the appropriate period, another child B triggers the second
    warning. And then finally again after a suitable time, child C triggers
    the third warning and the Tribunal awards damages to the copyright

    What is the Account Holder to do in this situation? No one child has
    incurred 3 strikes. Child A and B might have had access removed. So
    should they/their parents share in the fees/fines? And what about Child
    C? One strike and they have incurred a fine?

    Will be interested to see what you think.


    • Chris Hails says:

      Hi Mark, ideally all New Zealand schools should be logging student usernames to IP addresses and also logging activity on the machine being used. By logging this level of detail a school then can record and attribute responsibility to 3 different students as you suggest in your example. See more info on preparing your school and information from network providers.

      Any parent would be within their rights to ask for proof of the infringement in the form of network logging information. It’s for the school to decide how to proceed under the scenario you’ve given – to date there’s no precedent to follow.

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