Member log in

On Fur Patrol

Copyright Council head Paula Browning recently copped flak for holding up Boy as an example of a New Zealand movie hurt by illegal downloads.

“A pirated copy of Boy ended up on the internet,” Ms Browning told Nine to Noon’s Kathryne Ryan.

When one of his readers picked up on this comment, blogger Lance Wiggs was quick to highlight that Boy - 18-months on from its theatrical release - doesn’t seem to be available through any commercial download service. It's certainly not on iTunes, the most popular.

The incident reminded me of the Rianz (Recording Industry Association of NZ) campaign against digital music piracy, which centred around local band Fur Patrol, featuring lead singer Julia Deans.

Deans’ recent collaboration with Shihad’s Jon Toogood sent me to iTunes in search of Fur Patrol’s breakthrough album Pet (which went to number one) and the singles Lydia and Spinning a Line. None were on iTunes (at least for standalone purchase; Lydia can be bought as part of a $39.99 various artists collection).

These are hardly isolated examples of local music or movies being absent from street-legal download services. 

And as NBR has canvassed on numerous occasions, broadcasters who buy an overseas series then sit on it for months - or choose not to exercise their download rights (hello, iSky) - are testing the patience of the likes of 40-something Auckland professional “Paul” (still trying to work out his identity; Paul Buzzlin? Paul Brazlin?) featured in one of the Sunday papers over the weekend.

Piracy is wrong, and it does hurt local artists.

But with their all-stick, little carrot approach, organisations like Rianz and NZFACT (representing the Hollywood studios)* look suspiciously like they’re relying on the new Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act to prop up an out-dated business model while they under invest in - or at least under-appreciate - new technology.

And while that remains the case, they’re losing the battle for the hearts and minds of middle New Zealand - not to mention the revenue that would land in their laps from legitimate downloads. A survey recently quoted in Wired found that the commercial NetFlix now accounts for more US internet traffic that the peer-to-peer services associated with piracy. It seems if you give people the opportunity to pay, most do.

* Both have declined invitations to discuss the new file sharing law with NBR

More by this author

Comments and questions

That would be BOY, the most-successful-at-the-NZ-Box-Office-film-EVER?

There's interesting dots to join here ... but possibly not what NZFACT would have you believe.

And while you can pick up Boy on DVD at the Warehouse or your local supermarket, chances are if you do you'll be forced to sit through unskippable anti-piracy ads, and trailers.

Is there anything more annoying than buying a DVD and then being told to not pirate them in a "ad" before watching the movie!

Good column Chris.

I watched the Thorn Birds on Sky TV recently. Enjoyed the 10 part series so much I decided to buy the sequel.

Finally found it on Amazon, and tried to buy it. Got told they can not ship it to a NZ address.

Then tried to buy it from another provider. They waned me that their DVD would not work on a NZ DVD player.

Eventually I gave up trying to pay someone money for it so it would arrive in a couple of weeks, and instead used the method which got me the series for free in around 25 minutes.

There are some wonderful street-legal services out there, but they're just not able to come down here for whatever reason. Spotify is one such service, providing streaming music from an extensive library on either an ad-supported or paid-subscription basis -- the irony is that it's full of NZ music (Fly My Pretties, The Chills, etc.), but NZers can't legitimately use it.

Well written - good comments Chris. And as for comments in the article you mentioned -

"RICK ELLIS, chief executive of state broadcaster TVNZ, agrees there's a trend toward getting foreign shows here faster, but although "a small number" of TV aficionados will download out of impatience, the "vast majority" of viewers are still happy with "linear" viewing – a fancy word for switching on a telly and watching shows in the order a programmer ordained."

Oh dear. Mr Ellis you so are out of touch. This is mind boggling the CEO of our state broadcaster has this mindset. It's 2011!!!!!!!!!

With patents there is an option for compulsary licensing, but with copyright there is no way to solve the supply problem when someone refuses to sell.

The Copyright Tribunal can decide whether licensing rates are reasonable (e.g. they can adjudicate disputes beteween PPNZ and Radio Networks) but the NZ Government can't require the sale of items due to copyright treaties.

I was glad to see that Pages 6-7 of the regulations on the file sharing bill allow the Tribunal the option of scaling fines based on whether there was a legal alternative. That's about they can do...tell media companies that if they're not going to sell then they're not going get the same protections in our publicly subsidised tribunal system.

Netflix accounts for over 30% of residential bandwidth in the US whereas Torrents (both legal and illegal) now only account for about 25% of bandwidth. This shows that 'pirates' aren't merely trying to get everything for free, and what they do want is legal options. These legal options are the best way of helping artists, or to put it another way, New Zealand artists are harmed more by the lack of legal options more than they are harmed by piracy.

New Zealand has the infrastructure to support TV on Demand,, etc., and ISPs can cache the data and provide it uncapped (as Orcon do with Steam and other services). It's not a technology issue, it's all about licensing.

Up until 2008 South Korea had a lot of piracy before introducing their '3 strikes' law but prior to that regime the industry also provided legal downloads at the same time as DVD releases. I sometimes wonder whether the NZ industry will eventually relent and offer legal downloads but only after a decade because this is their window of opportunity to get harsh copyright laws. It might be in their interests not to adapt, but then how willing should we be to create laws for them?

I agree with your points. It appears the rights organisations have utterly failed to adapt to the internet age.

But we have also been badly failed by our politicians. They should have rejected any internet-specific laws until local organisations could show evidence that legal online services weren't being utilised. Instead, at US behest, we have fines and punishment with few and weak legitimate services.

National appears happy to tow the US line (including trading IP for milk under the TPPA). Labour claim to have rethought their approach to copyright but still presume there is a "growing problem of Internet piracy" instead of a market failure.

I read that a report suggested that people who pirate movies, music and TV spend more on content then their law-abiding counterparts, and I believe it.
I spend a lot on DVDs, they fill up a large bookshelf. Along with (literally) hundreds of movies I also own multiple TV series on DVD including all of Dexter, the new Dr Who, Brak, Battlestar Galactica, Hack, Torchwood, Rahxephon, Weeds, Californiacation, Deadwood, Firefly, Ghost in the Shell, Jericho, Moral Orel, Dollhouse, Xmen, Record of Lodoss War, The Wire, Witch Hunter Robin, Escaflowne and the entire collection of the 80s Transformers cartoon. And those are just the ones where I own the whole lot (rather then cherry picking the good seasons, like with True Blood, Family Guy and Mad Men).
Without exception I discovered (or rediscovered) the shows via downloading them with a Torrent. Anything I liked I brought. And it was significant trouble to obtain some of them (like series two of Jericho and all of Dollhouse) as I had to import them after finding no place to buy them legally in this country.

I understand that content providers are trying to send a message, but I’ve got one for them. I will no longer buy legal copies of any cd, movie or tv show from any provider that attempts to send out a notice under this new law. To those who send out notices, I will publicly offer to loan my legal CDs/DVDs/Bluray from those rights-holders to anyone who wants to watch them
Instead of clamping down on a non-problem, work out a way to get your content into my hands instead of making me chase legal copies over half the sodding globe.

I (and my children) buy music on iTunes, and happy to do so (where possible), but so frustrating when everybody is talking about series like Game of Thrones.. and I can't watch it (legally) that I know of.

End result.. a big chunk of my monthly cap gone, but I am now upto episode 6..

Compare that with something like 'Avalanche City - Love Love Love' song. NZ artist, good song, free to download from the artists website.. so I signed up to Pay Pal for the first time, simply so I could pay the artist.

Similar to other artists like 'The Weeknd' - free download of the album is on their website... makes me wonder if the RIAA are keen to stop this sort of download as well?

I don't watch a lot of TV or movies, but I do listen to a lot of music. My approach is the same as my approach to tips at a restaurant. If my tip goes to the person that serves me, I'll pay one. If it goes to management, I don't.
Similarly, I will download music from an artist and pay them directly where possible. If not, I will generally download the music via an anonymising network (like I2P) and then I look to purchase some other type of merchandise from the artist such as T-Shirts etc.
My theory is that they earn a cut off the merchandise as well. If not, then they get the advertising when I proudly wear it.
And I don't even charge an endorsement fee!

Gosh this sounds like a letter I wrote to Steven Joyce. Just to get one back saying I did not know what I was talking about. I am one of those people more than happy to pay if I can find it. The NZ government are so far behind the times just like Hollywood. Give it to me and I will use it.

And note that even if you did buy a version of "Boy" on one of those quaint shiny plastic beer mats, transferring it to a digital device is illegal in NZ because, in 2006, our officials said format shifting of films was not an activity that there was much call for in NZ. #skynet indeed.

Have to say I wouldn't normally have thought of stealing a movie, but those ridiculous unavoidable ads make me want to punish the industry. Guess what option springs to mind?

Definitely not me - I don't have Sky because instead of letting me choose which shows I want to watch, broadcasters make me subscribe to entire channels I don't want to get them...

let me buy one episode at a time and I'll happily pay, just like I do with music.

It's not rocket science.

Favourite quote in Adam's story:

[TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis] points to figures from research company Nielsen showing that from 2000 and 2010, the number of viewers across all channels lifted from 2.5 million per day to 2.9 million, and the average watching-time climbed from 168 minutes per day to 202.

He thinks this is is partly because watching TV is getting more enjoyable as flat-screens get bigger and picture definition gets higher. The number of TVs per household is also climbing. And, curiously, the internet itself may be boosting TV viewing.

When TVNZ launched its online On Demand service, there was concern it might cannibalise regular TV viewing. But the opposite was true. On Demand usage is climbing – 1.8 million streams last month – but look closer and it turns out a third of On Demand viewers are just catching up on a missed episode.

The clever bit, says Ellis, is that having caught up, those people are much more likely to tune back in to the next episode on TV, rather than abandoning a series completely. Result? Old-fashioned TV viewing increases.

Ahh, I wonder how long old-fashioned TV viewing will stay at the current level if the free to air networks keep cancelling shows mid way through, not getting shows at all or take ages to get them on?

Why should someone have to sell you something, just because you want it? Their refusal doesn't stop your downloading it being theft. I'd like an Audi A4, but that doesn't mean I can just go and take one.


Your Argument is nonsense. If I had the money, I can go and buy/rent an Audi A4, but no matter how much money I have, there is no *legal* way for me to see game of thrones, or many other awesome shows that are currently airing overseas.

The fact is, Tv shows, music & movies are intrinsic part of culture. It used to be fine before the internet age, we didn't know we were missing out and so when shows/movies finally arrived here, it was new and exciting to us.

Now we have the internet. As soon as something is out, we all know about it. This means that many of us, no matter how hard we try, end up having parts of these shows ruined because major plot points become part of global culture, while we're still waiting to see the pilot.

Also, have any artists gone bankrupt as a direct result of piracy? No. Have any become major successes and been able to leave their day jobs thanks to it? Yes.

So in summary, much like the industry, your view is outdated, irrelevant and mis-informed.

@ Kyhwana
As long as someone wants to debase themselves by watching Next Top Kiwi Model, Old-fashioned TV will be there.
When beneficiaries seek out Jeremy Kyle to make their own lives seem better, Old-fashioned TV will be there.
When some poor anorak longs to see 1400 'reality' cop shows back to back, Old-fashioned TV WILL be there.

Sadly, for those of us who aren't interested in Dancing at New Zealands Next Top Master Chief Survivor Weddings, the pickings are slim.


A refusal to sell makes it a very different kind of argument by these companies. It's no longer about 'lost sales' because they're causing the problem themselves and we can know this from looking overseas at the success of legitimate options (Netflix being more popular than all torrents combined, for example).

I think it would be very foolish to take an ideological view of copyright.

Your argument reminds me of the speech that Bronwyn Holloway-Smith gave to the select committee,

"This new bill has emerged because of concerns of lost sales due to illegal file sharing and its effects on New Zealand artists and industries. It’s fair to say that if no one thought they were losing money we probably wouldn’t be here today. What this means is that we’re not here to defend some abstract copying right for the mere sake of it. We’re here discussing the public’s interest in cultural works, how to support artistic livlihoods, business models, and the economics of copying.

It’s tempting to take a simplistic view of copyright as a property right, as if it were a physical object, and then to derive rewards and punishments accordingly. But copyright doesn’t fit so comfortably into this category, and treating copyright as a property right won’t solve the problem that brought us here today.

Copyrighted works are not simply items of property, but they form our culture. People will always want to access and participate in their culture. In order to do this there must be legal options for accessing cultural works. Again, it would be naïve to view this as an entitlement issue –whereby if the work is not offered for sale then people should simply accept that they’re not entitled to it. People’s appetite for cultural works will always exist, and without addressing the public’s demand for legal options we won’t solve the underlying grievances of either the public or artistic industries."


It's quite funny that they made a huge fuss about Boy being pirated, but when The World's Fastest Indian (the former highest grossing NZ film of all time) ended up on the trackers, not an eyelid was battered.

Excellent article Chris.

It would be a shame (and somewhat ironic) to think that the only thing driving content availability is piracy…

The only thing driving new business models in the media industry is (and pretty much always has been) piracy.

It is not an industry that want's to innovate on it's own. But it wants to make money, so eventually they adapt their models to fit the demands of their audience. That will happen in this case, eventually - at least as much as possible.

OK, I'm late here with comments. I just went to buy an album on itunes - $9.99 in the US (NZD$11.96) - but because I am in NZ, the price is $21.99 - WTF?????? That is just abuse of a powerless market. I only purchase music, I don't steal from artists - but tell me how the artist in this case doubles his money because the bits go to NZ instead of NY????

I'd believe anything that Paula Browning from CCL says. She's very captivating !