Rotorua internet providers are questioning how a new copyright bill, which attempts to stop illegal downloading of music and movies, can be policed.
The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill passed through Parliament this week is designed to prevent illegal file sharing of internet users.
Copyright owners now have the ability to send evidence of alleged infringement to internet service providers (ISP), who will then send up to three infringement notices to the account holder. If the warnings are ignored, the copyright owner can take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal and the tribunal can make awards of up to $15,000 against the account holder.
Rotorua McDonald's owner Rob Parry said all four restaurants in the city had free wi-fi internet.
"It's been hugely successful since we put it in three or four months ago, you'll never see more laptops in your life."
Mr Parry said his personal view was that the owner of the laptop, not the provider, should be held responsible if found to be downloading illegally.
"I don't imagine us to be liable, in fact, I would be mortified if we were but I have no doubt our IT department are working on this issue right now and will inform us of any new IT policy we would need to implement."
Andre Jansen, manager of Fun Factor on Pukuatua St, doesn't support the bill in its current state.
"It's going to be very hard to police and it's not going to be popular with my customers," he said. "I can block certain websites or programs on my computers but if someone comes in with their own laptop and has already downloaded the programme, I can't control that.
"There should be an amendment to confine the bill to home users and not to businesses. With big commercial businesses that are using 40 different computers, it will be like finding a needle in a haystack tracing who was downloading."
The Rotorua District Library manager Jane Gilbert said all users of the library's wi-fi internet and their computers were expected to follow certain rules which included abiding by the copyright laws.
"Most of our computers face out so staff can keep an eye on what is going on but it is almost impossible to be able monitor the other users," she said. "But ours is a fairly slow internet, so if people are going to download it will take hours.
Mrs Gilbert likened the new bill to the copyright laws in regards to photocopy books. She said they would have to consult with the council's legal team to decide what direction they will go in policing the internet in the future.
"It's a difficult area to police and some of it does come down to interpretation."
Alex Kothe of Germany was using the library's wi-fi yesterday to check emails and book accommodation as he travels throughout New Zealand.
"I don't download, I usually buy CDs if I want to listen to music," he said.
Ngongotaha MovieTime owner Layla Robinson said she liked "in principle" the idea behind the new legislation.
"I don't know exactly how it's going to be policed but there is a need to stop people that download movies and music because it has repercussions and it's not just for the studios, the affect comes right down to me," she said.
"Downloading does affect my business, just before Christmas I had a guy in here wanting a blank DVD to copy the new Harry Potter movie which hadn't even come out yet. Not only did he already have a download copy but he was going to duplicate for someone."
Ms Robinson also offered computers with internet access in her store. Downloading was restricted anyway to save her internet bandwidth.
"I do take some responsibility especially when there are kids using the computers but I'm not going to start taking people's names and addresses because of the bill - that's just too intrusive. I just think the Government has rushed this through and it's a bit unfair that there wasn't more public discussion beforehand."