No infringement notices so far – ISPs

UPDATED:

Sony Pictures New Zealand general manager Andrew Cornwell said he did not think there would be a deluge of notices on the first day of the act, but instead a slow release.  He said rights owners were working with the ISPs to facilitate a smooth transition.

"We're trying to work with them, we're trying to be cooperative, working with them rather than just burying them with notices on day one."

He said the notices were quite expensive and local companies might not employ them. 

He said the Act was principally more of an educative process, with some more hard line about infringement by using methods to avoid detection than others.

"Ideally if people got their first notice and stopped, that would be great."

Mr Cornwell said the principles of the law had not changed but that the Amendment Act was a tool to enforce it. 

"It's always been illegal to take copyrighted material without paying. This is basically a tool to effectively enable us to have a chance of catching people out."

He said the law was important to protect investment in intellectual property,

"Because without any protection at all, you bascially would not have a business, you wouldn't have movies full stop."

He said of the Act that people had the right to challenge notices, and that both parties at the Copyright Tribunal would have to prove their claims. 

"People do have a right to challenge the whole thing, I don't think there's any question of just because someone says you're guilty, you are."

Mr Cornwell said he believed it was a reasonably robust process

"You couldn't go into this half-baked, so I think it's reasonably robust but if people wanted to challenge it, I think we would have an obligation to go through the proof."

He said there would be issues around account holders whose families infringe being held responsible, but this was not an unusual situation.

 

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Most telcos canvassed did not receive any infringement notices as of the afternoon of the first day the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act came into force.

As of yesterday afternoon, Vodafone, Telecom and Orcon had not received any infringement notices from rights owners under the new copyright infringement regime.

The Amendment Act sets up a process where rights owners send Internet Service Providers (ISPs) infringement notices, with details of alleged infringements by an identified account holder. 

The ISP is required under the Act to forward these notices to the account holders concerned, and forward any challenges the account holder submits to the rights holder.

An account holder can receive three infringement notices, whereupon a rights owner can choose to take the account holder to the Copyright Tribunal, where the maximum penalty is a $15,000 fine.

The Act came into force yesterday, but infringements could technically start counting from August 11, meaning rights owners could have sent backdated notices yesterday.  NZFACT executive director Tony Eaton was reported as having said the organisation would not backdate notices from September 1.

 

ISPS - none so far

As of about 4.30pm, Telecom senior media and communications consultant retail Anna Skerten said the company had not received any infringement notices but stood ready and waiting to comply with its obligations under the Act.

At about 3pm, Orcon head of brand and communications Quentin Reade said the company had not received any infringement notices so far.

At about 3.40pm, Vodafone external communications manager Michelle Baguley said the company’s process to deal with infringement notices was up and running, but that it had received no requests so far.

“We’ve been working very closely with the two rights holder groups – NZFACT and RIANZ.”

TelstraClear spokesman Gary Bowering said the company suggested NBR direct questions about infringement notices issued to the rights holders, as they had the information about the volume of notices sent out industry wide.

“As we have previously noted, TelstraClear respects copyright and supports the ability of rights owners to realise value from their intellectual property.  But a business model that has to be propped up by specific legislation in this way is flawed and needs to change.”

 

NZFACT executive director Tony Eaton yesterday said he could not answer questions about whether any infringement notices had been sent as he was “incredibly" busy.

NBR is seeking comment from RIANZ.

 

The Act has been controversial, with some saying the law favours a ‘guilty until proven innocence’ approach, while rights owners say copyright infringement is an illegal activity that costs the industry, and local content producers, such as film makers, millions. 

According to an NZFACT release, a study by independent research firm LEK Consulting on behalf of the Motion Picture Association showed that piracy cost the New Zealand film industry $70.8 million in 2005, with $43.7 million of the total loss picked up by local film and television makers.

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