Kiwi filesharers to face Copyright Tribunal

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Kiwi filesharers to face Copyright Tribunal

Skynet law swings into action.

Record companies have applied to take action against three people alleged of pirating music under New Zealand's new anti-filesharing law.

The three-strikes regime allows rights holders to haul in front of the Copyright Tribunal users who receive a final warning or enforcement notice for alleged filesharing.

If found guilty, the Copyright Tribunal can mete out fines up to $NZ15,000 ($A11,676) a person.

Large fines on that scale are thought to be reserved for people causing major financial losses to rights holders, through sharing for instance films ahead of their first public release.

Last year, the former minister of justice Simon Power suggested that requiring file sharers to reimburse rights holders the $NZ275 ($A214) Copyright Tribunal application fee along with "appropriate compensation" could in some cases be sufficient as a deterrent.

Fairfax News reported that the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) had taken out orders at the Copyright Tribunal against the three people, whose identities had not been revealed.

No details of the material they are alleged to have infringed on have been revealed, nor if there will be a hearing at the Tribunal for each case.

As of June this year, RIANZ has sent more than 2700 copyright infringement warnings to account holders via their internet service providers.

The country's anti-filesharing law that came into effect last year is credited with halving copyright infringement through means such as Bittorrent in the first month of its existence.

The New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZ FACT) claim that Kiwis illegally viewed top-200 movies online 50,000 times as opposed to 110,000 instances before the new law kicked in.

But rights holders claim that there has been no discernible reduction in illegal file sharing since then, and are campaigning for lowered processing fees so that they can send out more notices to users.

Presently, rights holders pay $NZ25 ($A19.50) per notice to internet service providers but would like to see this being lowered to just a few cents.

A reduced processing fee would allow RIANZ to send out 5000 notices a month, according to the organisation's submission to the Ministry of Economic Development in April (pdf).

Internet providers meanwhile want the fee to be maintained at the current level, or be increased to cover processing costs. Telecom New Zealand for instance would like the fee to be quadrupled.

Paul Brislen, CEO of the Telecommunications Association of New Zealand, said he was "pleased to see the recording industry actually fronting up and following the process" of the new anti-filesharing regime.

"It will also be interesting to see just what these alleged infringers are supposed to have done, whether the industry’s approach (basically a “honey trap” model) actually works and how the Copyright Tribunal will operate," he said.

"Given how long the law has been in place and how little activity we’ve seen (nothing from the TV, movie, book or game rights holders) it’s an important step in New Zealand’s copyright regime."

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