New Zealand’s ‘three strikes’ legislation which was introduced last September and which sees alleged Kiwi file-sharers monitored, warned, and eventually punished for their infringements has now reached the final phase with the first so-called ’3rd strike’ issued. The ‘enforcement’ notices were delivered on behalf of the music industry although commentators noted that even after more than 6 months, their movie industry counterparts are yet to send even one initial warning. Internet users who are discovered uploading copyright material are first sent two warnings via their ISP. On receipt of a third, under the “Skynet” legislation, copyright holders can take the Internet account holder to the Copyright Tribunal where they face hefty fines.
The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 had a tortuous path before implementation. Argument, counter-argument and intense lobbying from the copyright industries preceded its introduction in September last year. NZ ISPs TelstraClear and Orcon have both confirmed that they have sent third and final “enforcement” warnings to customers, delivered on behalf of RIANZ. The alleged music pirates now have a week from the date of the notice to lodge a dispute. Failure to do so could lead the individual to be referred to the Copyright Tribunal for a punishment which could include a fine of up to $15,000. TelstraClear, an outspoken critic of the ’3 strikes’ legislation, confirmed that it had been receiving just 15 notices a week from RIANZ. One theory as to why there have relatively few actions is cost: when an ISP sends out a notice they can charge copyright holders a fee of $25. There is a further cost of $200 to take a case before the tribunal. With thousands of notices sent the costs would soon mount up although ISPS have themselves complained about the costs (which are being reviewed); “It’s more complex than just, ‘receive information, send notice’ ” TelstraClear’s Oonagh McEldowney said, adding, “We’re nowhere near recovering our setup costs.”