New Zealand's Controversial Piracy Law Halves Illegal Downloads in a Month
July 23, 2012 11:25 AM
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
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
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).
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 complains its lost hundreds of thousands of dollars
complying with the new law. [Image Source: TechDay]
Ministry of Economic Development
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.
Fairfax NZ News
Ministry of Economic Development
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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