15 third copyright strikes

Tom Pullar-Strecker at Stuff reports:

The first judgments under the controversial ‘SkyNet’ law that is designed to help stamp out music piracy are edging closer as the wraps come off another service, Pandora, that lets people listen to music legally online.

A Justice Ministry spokesman said the Recording Industry Association, which represents major record labels, had asked the tribunal to make awards against 15 people who the association has accused of illegally accessing music over file-sharing networks.

All 15 had received their “third strike” and could be liable for penalties running into thousands of dollars.

In four of the cases, the tribunal now had all the information it needed to begin its deliberations, the spokesman said, though no date has yet been scheduled for those to start.

None had requested to appear in front of the tribunal in person and they had instead asked for their cases to be judged on the written evidence “so they are ready to proceed and have a decision made,” the spokesman said.

A lot of people will be reading the first judgments with interest. The two major issues will be what constitutes proof of infringement, and what is an appropriate level of penalty within the bounds laid down by the law.

I don’t regard it as a bad thing that there is a simple fairly cost-effective remedy for rights holders to get sanctions against those who infringe by downloading a free copy, rather than paying for it. But the law is imperfect with its assumption of liability, so again great interest in how these first cases are resolved.