Our normally mild mannered sheep loving friends across the Tasman have passed a new set of anti-piracy laws which are amongst the most draconian in the world. The laws, which come in to effect on September 1st, are also set to apply to mobile networks from 2013 in anticipation of advances in technology.

Under the legislation, which had only three politicians vote against it, file sharing is formally outlawed and threatens repeat offenders with having their internet cut off for six months. Offenders could be liable for fines of around $12,000 with proceeds paid to copyright holders. The cases will be heard by a Copyright Tribunal which in a concerning move, will have to grant special dispensation before alleged offenders can be represented by a lawyer.

Further, prosecution notices will be issued by internet providers, and people who receive offence notices will be assumed to have taken part in illegal file sharing unless they can provide evidence or reasons to the tribunal proving that it hasn’t. Considering the customer service levels provided by many ISPs, this is an ominous sign.