The Infringing File Sharing - Amendment Act 2011 put landlords at risk who provide Internet access. How to deal with that risk and manage the Internet access?
Providing Internet Access
Are Landlords at Risk?
Sharing information—Everybody does it
We exchange information, share files and data for instance as email attachment every day. What is the problem? Sharing in general is not illegal. Well, sharing downloads and copyright protected content to others is illegal.
Internet Access as part of the rental agreement
Landlords who are providing Internet access when renting furnished or holiday homes are liable for the actions of their tenants. Similarly, you are held liable for actions of guests in your home using your Internet account.
The Infringing File Sharing - Amendment Act 2011 makes changes to the Copyright Act 1994 for cracking down on peer-to-peer file sharing on the Internet. The law came into force on 1st September 2011. By definition “File sharing” is:
· material uploaded or downloaded from the Internet, and
· using an application or network that enables the simultaneous sharing of material between multiple users.
The law says that the person who owns the Internet account (account holder) is liable, even if he/she was not the person who broke the law. So, for the landlords it will be hard to give evidence not to be guilty.
The process is to get two notices before the hearing of Copyright Tribunal. If your tenant signs a related clause on the tenancy agreement, you will be able to act accordingly. Otherwise the minimum penalty is $275 and goes up to $15,000.
Scotney Williams, from Tenancy Management Services, advised that “landlords should protect themselves after one Dunedin landlord fell foul of what they claimed was the tenant's activity.”
How can landlords manage Internet access and risks?
The problem is when tenant’s Internet behavior becomes illegal, down-loading or sharing copyrighted movies, copyrighted songs, computer software, games, and so on with people who have not purchased that content on the Internet.
The Internet account holder pays for the traffic (usage of bandwidth). If the tenant has unrestricted access that could trigger bills of thousands of Dollars for downloading movies, uploading videos to YouTube.com, streaming radio and online television, etc. However, it could also open a door for illegal activities by using landlord’s IP (Internet address).
Reducing that risk we limit the traffic to a certain amount, sign a clause on the tenancy agreement that costs for exceeding that limit are tenant’s expenses and will be passed on to occupants of the rental accommodation.
For monitoring traffic and Internet usage Internet providers normally provide online tools as part of the subscription agreement. So, it is not as bad as it might read.
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