The first copyright third strike

Tom Pullar-Strecker at Stuff reports:

A TelstraClear customer may be the first to be hauled in front of the Tribunal and fined for internet piracy under the controversial “three strikes” copyright regime that came into effect in September.

TelstraClear spokesman Gary Bowering said it issued a third and final “enforcement” notice to a customer on Thursday for allegedly pirating music, after being instructed to do so by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand.

Bowering said TelstraClear could not comment further as the matter was now out of its hands.

The alleged pirate will have until Thursday week to dispute the enforcement notice.

If they fail to do so, or if Rianz rejects their challenge, the association will then have 35 days in which to decide whether to ask the Copyright Tribunal to take action.

The tribunal can impose a fine of up to $15,000 for serious, flagrant offences under the law, which was designed to discourage people from pirating music and movies using file-sharing services.

However, the Government signalled in a Cabinet paper last year that in some cases it might be sufficient punishment for offenders to reimburse rights holders for the $275 in fees they will have had to incur bringing a case to the tribunal. It has no powers to cut off people’s internet access.

I actually hope it does go to the tribunal, so we can actually see how significant the alleged infringing was, and get some idea of what the Copyright Tribunal considers proof, and a legitimate defence if one is offered. It is possible no defence will be offered. We will also learn what level of fines will probably be applied in future for similar cases.

Unlike Rianz, the New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZfact), which is owned by the United States Motion Picture Association and represents movie studios, has decided against asking internet providers to issue infringement notices to customers on behalf of its members.

That is because of the $25 fee they must pay internet providers to issue each notice. There is an additional $200 fee to bring a case before the tribunal.

Those fees are now being reviewed by the Economic Development Ministry. NZfact chief executive Tony Eaton said they should be done away with.

Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen said it was “vitally important” people lobbied the ministry not to reduce the fees.

With all respect MPAA are being absolutely greedy here, and their greed should not be rewarded.

Already they have the taxpayers paying for the vast majority of the costs of the Copyright Tribunal. On top of this they have ISPs subsidising around 50% of every infringement notice, charging only $25 of an estimated $45 cost.

But the greedy MPAA thinks that they should pay nothing and the ISPs (who are innocent conduits) should pay everything. If the Government should go along with this reasoning, then it would be a disaster. The MPAA could spam ISPs with tens of thousands of alleged infringements.

The MPAA claims that piracy costs them billions of dollars, yet they are too stingy to pay a $25 fee to partially cover the ISP costs. Well if they think that is rational, good on them.

In fact what I suspect is that the MPAA has refused to file any infringements to try and pressure the Government into scrapping or reducing the fee. If the Government maintains the fee at its current level, then I suspect they will start using the system which has been set up for *their* benefit as the RIAA has.

Comments (9)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment

%d bloggers like this: