Online piracy "falls by half" in New Zealand

31-08-2012

A movie industry body has claimed online piracy has fallen by half in New Zealand since the government implemented a three-strike copyright law in September 2011.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which represents US film studios, reportedly said the top 200 movies were downloaded illegally about 50,000 times in September, down from 110,000 in August. It said the rate has since plateaued.

In a separate statement, the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (Rianz) said peer-to-peer (P2P) activity had fallen by 18 percent from October 2011 to April 2012. P2P networks allow users to share files, not all of which are necessarily pirated.

The submissions were handed to the country’s Economic Development Ministry, which is reviewing the fees rights holders must pay when notifying Internet service providers (ISPs) about illegal downloading.

Under the law, dubbed ‘Skynet’ by New Zealanders, copyright owners can send three warnings costing NZ$25 ($20.40) each to alleged infringers, via ISPs. After the third warning, the rights owner can apply to the Copyright Tribunal for damages up to NZ$15,000 ($12,200). Alternatively, the rights owner can ask a court to suspend the user’s account for six months.

From October to April, Rianz said it sent 2,766 of these notices to ISPs in New Zealand. The submissions show that three ISPs—Telecom, TelstraClear and Vodafone—each had one customer who had received a third strike. This meant Rianz could have applied to the Copyright Tribunal, but it had allowed too much time to elapse since the infringements and the users subsequently returned to having a clean record.

Rianz said it wants to increase the number of warnings to about 5,000 per month but first wants the notification fees cut from NZ$25 to NZ$2 ($1.63) or lower. FACT said neither it nor any of its members had notified ISPs, because the fees are too high.

According to the submissions, several ISPs opposed the fees being cut and some said they should be increased.

While Rianz claimed piracy on P2P networks had fallen by 18 percent, it said that in February 2012 around 41 percent of Internet users in New Zealand still accessed such networks. It said the global average was 28 percent. Intermediaries such as ISPs often argue that some of this downloading is done legally.

Other countries including France, the Republic of Ireland and Spain have similar three-strike systems to New Zealand’s. Copyright owners have also demanded that ISPs block access to file-sharing sites, notably The Pirate Bay and Newzbin, but these methods are seen as weak deterrents in the fight against piracy.

This article was first published on 01 September 2012 in World IP Review

FACT, Rianz, P2P, New Zealand piracy

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