Governments have been coming up with their own ways of clamping down on copyright infringements in the form of file sharing without much success. The US employs a hard lined stance where you can be penalized and fined thousands of dollars for a couple of mp3 files.New Zealand passed a new ruling on the matter a few months back whereby file sharers are given warnings and repeat offenders can eventually be fined up to NZ$15,000. In extreme cases, disconnection from the internet for a period of up to 6 months may be imposed as well.
The overall system seemed well thought out and it aimed at establishing a quick, lightweight system whereby disputes regarding file sharers could be handled quickly. A Copyright Tribunal was also setup so as to speed up proceedings and reduce litigation costs for all parties. However, there was one critical flaw in the rule, namely the presumption of guilt. The burden of proof was placed solely at the feet of the accused who would have to prove their innocence.
It seems now that the measures have not had the desired effect. ISPs in New Zealand are reporting drops in internet traffic possibly due to the fear of the new law. While that does effectively solve the P2P problem, removing people from the web is hardly the best way of accomplishing the goal. If the ISPs start losing customers and the web loses traffic, we are taking a step back rather than forward. It seems that the legislators must go back to the drawing board and come up with a new way to clamp down on copyright infringement.