Friday, May 27, 2011

Wellington's free wi-fi heading for collision with file-sharing law

UPDATE: Wellington City Council executive strategist Allan Prangnel told NBR his organisation's three-year contract with CityLink calls for an average speed of 5Mbit/s - upload as well as download (that is, faster than the speed many get from their broadband landline).

The free network will be funded by the City Council at a cost of $80,000 for setup, then $216,000 per year in bandwith and upkeep. Some of this cost expected to be offset by sponsorship - which will include ads on the website (being designed by Shift) that will be used to access the service.

What of NBR reader concerns about the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act? The new law, which comes into force on September 1, makes an account holder responsible for the actions of anyone using their internet connection.
Mr Prangnel said the council had considred the file sharing law, and was "quite comfortable that we're compliant".

But accessing the legislation earlier, Lowndes Jordan partner Rick Shera said the new law not only makes life complicated for employers, it  “also means a business providing free wi-fi is in the gun,” For account holders, there's no escaping responsibility - even if users have ignored terms of service, or employees disciplined or even fired.

If any Wellingtonians, or visitors, download any commercial song, movie or other commercial file on the sly, the buck will stop with the council. Mr Prangnel maintained that the file sharing law issue "is one for CityLink as the network provider, rather than the council."

CityLink marketing manager Patrick Sharp said his company - which is a fully-owned subsidiary of NZX-listed TeamTalk had sought legal advice. It's lawyers said CityLink was "not quite covered".
Section 122a of the act, which defines an Internet Protocol Address Provider, in part, as a company that charges for internet access, pointed out Mr Sharp.
So why is CityLink "not quite covered"? Because it also operates the CaféNET wireless network, which does charge for access.
Mr Sharp said the government likely "didn't conceive of free wi-fi" when it drafted the law. CityLink would look at beefing up the free wi-fi service's terms and conditions as a pre-emptive measure.

More at NBR.

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