2 mins to read

On Fur Patrol

Rights holders need less stick, and more carrot, as they prepare to flex their muscles under the new file sharing law.

Tue, 06 Sep 2011

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

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On Fur Patrol