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But gains stall in following months and government is stuck in telecom-vs-media battle over fees

New Zealand, like many nations, is struggling with how to balance the rights of big media investors that claim their work is being incessantly stolen by the masses, with the public's rights to privacy and due process.  New Zealand contemplated a "three strikes" plan, which involved sending pirates two warnings, then severing their internet service.  But unlike the outcome in most other regions where similar contentious plans were struck down or modified, the New Zealand plan passed, largely unchanged.

I. No Progress, After Modest Initial Gains

With all eyes watching, media attack dog New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZ FACT) has looked to track the bill's performance, in hopes of showing its efficacy.

The results were impressive -- for a month.  In one month, the top 200 movies were illegally viewed 110,000 times in August, but only 50,000 times in September, the month the law took effect.  But the group admits that in the months since there has been no "discernible progress" in terms of decreased piracy.

Kiwis (New Zealanders) have taken to referring to the laws as "the Skynet" bill.  The bill creates a Copyright Tribunal, which has the power to fine citizens up to $15,000 NZ ($11,870 USD).

You're out
After early gains, New Zealand's "Three Strikes" plan to ban copyright infringers has stalled, with 4 out of 10 citizens still regularly pirating. [Image Source: Ed Zurga/AP]

So far, fewer notices have been sent than some expected.  Aside from government officials double-guessing the passage of the bill, one obstacle to mailing notices has been the $25 NZ ($20 USD) reimbursement fee under the law which media companies must send telecoms to cover their processing costs.

II. Debate Over Notice Fees Rages

NZ FACT has not mailed any notices, but the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) -- the sister organization to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) -- has managed to send out 2,766 infringement notices between October and April.  Of those, only 58 were challenged.  And only two individuals won their challenges before the Copyright Tribunal.

The RIANZ is pushing for the fee to telecoms to be cut the review fee to a few cents.  Telecoms are upset about this, saying it will not cover the cost of warning and cutting off customers.  

The largest telecom in the nation Telecom New Zealand says it lost approximately $431.68 NZ ($342 USD) per user to verify and process the notices.  It sent 1,238 notices and thus lost approximately $400K USD complying with the ruling.  The carrier and internet service provider is pushing the government to raise the fee to $104 NZ ($82 USD) to come closer to covering the costs. 

Telecom New Zealand
Telecom New Zealand complains its lost hundreds of thousands of dollars
complying with the new law. [Image Source: TechDay]

New Zealand's Ministry of Economic Development is currently contemplating whether to cut the fee or raise it.

However, one thing is certain -- in recent months the bill is making little progress.  While the global average for citizens who commit at least one copyright egregious infringement per month is estimated at around 28 percent of the population, the RIANZ estimates that 41 percent -- or approximately 2 out of ever 5 Kiwis commit such an offense, as of Feb. 2012, despite the threat of the three strikes law.

Sources: Fairfax NZ News, Ministry of Economic Development

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RE: Sure, of course it would work - in a way
By rpsgc on 7/23/2012 11:55:12 AM , Rating: -1
I'm pretty sure online "piracy" would go down 100% , not 99%, if there was no Internet.

RE: Sure, of course it would work - in a way
By ipay on 7/23/2012 12:17:17 PM , Rating: 5
Gather around the camp fire kids, and let me tell you a story about something we used to call a BBS...

By ClownPuncher on 7/23/2012 6:28:31 PM , Rating: 2
Big Boned Sisters?

RE: Sure, of course it would work - in a way
By MrBlastman on 7/23/2012 11:57:55 PM , Rating: 5
BBSs were awesome. I miss those days. Well, everything except downloading pr0n at 2400 bps, waiting seven minutes for a single picture to download it and then opening it with great anticipation... Only to see a girl with her legs spread dropping a hot, fat, brown load out of her backside.

Yeah. That sucked. :-|

RE: Sure, of course it would work - in a way
By MrBlastman on 7/24/2012 12:31:14 PM , Rating: 3
Writing while sleepy late at night is a bad thing that leads too all sorts of sentence structure errors.

Still, that was a totally true story. It's also something I can never forget. Did I mention she was peeing too? :(

Thumbnails weren't even invented yet--well, not until Telemate came around with them but that took a few years and even then it didn't work that well.

So, while BBSs ruled, at the same time they were a loaded minefield that you had to carefully navigate. Hmm, sounds a lot like the internet, only smaller. Regardless, some of my fondest memories come from that squawky tone underneath my desk as I dial over and over again to get the next spot on the board.

By ClownPuncher on 7/24/2012 2:40:41 PM , Rating: 2
I swear you're either a friend of mine from High School, or we just had a very similar experience. Several minutes to load, then OH GOD WHAT?!

By Paj on 7/24/2012 9:31:31 AM , Rating: 2
Downloading Duke Nukem 3D demo overnight FTW

RE: Sure, of course it would work - in a way
By SAN-Man on 7/24/2012 12:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
I've been thinking for about five years now that private Intranets will replace the Internet as we know it in the next 5-10 years and that governments will not be invited, much the same why governments are not invited to view private corporate networks today.

Major web sites will pay for access to private Intranets. The Internet itself will still exists.

By Ringold on 7/24/2012 1:12:28 PM , Rating: 1
Government invites itself to parties when it wants, I don't imagine if there was a huge expansion of private networks that it'd stay very private for long.

By StevoLincolnite on 7/23/2012 12:17:54 PM , Rating: 5
People used to record movies that aired on Television, Recorded songs off the radio... Before the internet came along.

Heck people used (Probably still do!) Record copies of CD's and cassettes.

You can never stop piracy, you can reduce it by releasing alternatives that provide more value or convenience however, but these media associations don't understand that.

New Zealand doesn't even have Netflix or any real type of alternative to my knowledge, so a good start would be to offer a service similar to that.

By croc on 7/24/2012 12:21:48 AM , Rating: 2
"New Zealand doesn't even have Netflix or any real type of alternative to my knowledge, so a good start would be to offer a service similar to that."

And with our capped service plans and high prices, who could afford a netflix type service? TBH, though, I do believe we now have something called quikflix. But due to first statement, I haven't looked into it.

By AnnihilatorX on 7/24/2012 9:37:26 AM , Rating: 2
I don't support literal pedantry myself, but the original post did put down "online piracy", and online refers to the Internet, hence the 2nd poster is not wrong.

By Rookierookie on 7/23/2012 2:17:14 PM , Rating: 3
I said "ban" the internet. Just because you are using the internet doesn't mean you are using it legally, no?

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

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