Digital Legal

Three face Copyright Tribunal in New Zealand three-strikes

By | Published on Wednesday 5 September 2012


Three-strikes in New Zealand is heading for strike three, according to The Register. And keeping things on brand, three suspected file-sharers will be brought before the Copyright Tribunal, where they could face fines of up NZ$15,000 per infringement.

As previously reported, New Zealand is one of a small number of countries to introduce a so called graduated response or three-strikes system for combating illegal file-sharing – whereby internet service providers are forced to send warning letters to suspected file-sharers when they are identified by rights owners. Those that ignore the warnings then face some kind of penalty, which varies from country to country.

New Zealand was one of the first countries to seriously discuss three-strikes, though it took a while to work out exactly how it would work. But warning letters started to go out last year, and by early summer over 2700 had been sent. The record industry insists that the warning letters alone cut file-sharing, but inevitably some of the cases need to be taken to strike three if the whole programme is to be a long term deterrent.

Word had it that in July some of the cases in New Zealand were close to the third strike, and the latest reports say three customers of Telecom New Zealand will be the first to go through the Copyright Tribunal process set up by the country’s three-strikes laws. New Zealand’s Justice Ministry has seemingly confirmed that the country’s record industry trade body, RIANZ, has instigated that process, though exactly how it will work, and on what sort of timescales, is not yet clear.

As previously reported, some cases under a similar system in France are also heading towards strike three, though the government there looks likely to water down the anti-piracy rules before any file-sharers are actually brought to court. In the UK, where the 2010 Digital Economy Act in theory put in place a graduated response system, no warning letters have as yet been sent and, even if and when they are, no real process for a strike three has been written into British law so far.