Labels make example of Kiwi downloaders
- — 03 September, 2012 22:00
Record companies have asked for three Kiwi internet users to be hauled in front of the Copyright Tribunal and fined under the controversial "Skynet" copyright law for allegedly pirating music.
Previously the Recording Industry Association (RIANZ) had limited itself to sending more than 2700 warnings to people it believed it had caught illegally sharing music through peer-to-peer networks.
There was surprise in July when it emerged the association had chosen not to take action against any of the first three internet users who had received third and final "enforcement notices" under the three-strikes regime.
But Justice Ministry spokesman Nathan Green confirmed that RIANZ, which represents big labels, including EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner, had now bared its teeth by making an example of three others who had received their final notices.
"Three applications for an order requiring payment to a rights owner under Section 122(O) of the Copyright Act 1994 have been received from the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand," he said.
The chairwoman of the Copyright Tribunal, Victoria University law professor Susy Frankel, would get details of the three accused from their internet providers, check that the applications had been filled out correctly, and would then determine the way forward, he said.
As yet, the ministry had no details of the accused or what they were alleged to have pirated, he said.
RIANZ chief executive Chris Caddick was not available for comment.
The tribunal can impose fines of up to $15,000 on people for pirating music or movies over the internet.
However, fines on that scale are expected to be reserved for people who cause big financial losses to studios, for example by pirating and sharing films before their public release.
Former justice minister Simon Power said last year that the tribunal would be able to consider whether requiring offenders only reimburse rights holders for the $275 in fees they have to pay to bring a case to the tribunal, plus "appropriate compensation", might in some cases be sufficient deterrent.
Labour Party communications spokeswoman Clare Curran said she trusted the tribunal to make the right decisions.
But she was concerned the Government might buckle under pressure from the music and film industries to lower the fees they need to pay internet providers to send infringement notices to customers.
Those fees are now being reviewed by the Economic Development Ministry.