Welcome to my ISP

So much attention has been on the infamous (now indefinitely suspended) section 92A of the Copyright Act 1994, that another quirk introduced by the same batch of amendments has largely gone unnoticed.

According to section 2(1) of the recently-amended Copyright Act 1994, an Internet Service Provider is defined as including anyone who “hosts material on websites or other electronic retrieval systems that can be accessed by a user“.

This is a very broad definition. It is unclear what the final words “accessed by a user” add, as it is very difficult to conceive of any computer system that cannot be “accessed by a user”. Assuming that every website will accessible by a user, either on an intranet or publicly, the definition of Internet Service Provider is therefore anyone who hosts material on a website.

Clearly, this will include all website operators – “hosting material” is not exactly a novel use for a website.

While it does seem somewhat strange that Parliament chose to give a commonly understood term such a different meaning, this particular definition of ISP applies only to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1994. As a later post will cover, this is actually of benefit to NZ website operators.