New Zealand record industry flubs its first three-strikes prosecution

The first of eight prosecutions brought under New Zealand's three-strikes copyright law (passed as a rider to the emergency legislation freeing up money to provide relief for the Christchurch earthquake) has fallen apart.

The RIANZ (Record Industry Association of NZ) withdrew its case against a student in shared accommodation without saying why.

However, as Torrentfreak reports, NZ activists at Tech Liberty point out that the notices sent to the student, and the damages claimed, were all badly bungled and unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny.

The recording group asked for just over NZ $370 (US $303) to cover the costs of the notices and copyright tribunal hearing, plus NZ $1,250 (US $1,024) as a deterrent. However, eyebrows were certainly raised when it came to their claim for the music involved in the case.

The infringements were alleged to have taken place on five tracks with the cost of each measured against their value in the iTunes store, a total of NZ $11.95 (US $9.79). This sounds reasonable enough, but RIANZ were actually claiming for $1075.50 (US $880.96).

“RIANZ decided, based on some self-serving research, that each track had probably been downloaded 90 times and therefore the cost should be multiplied by 90,” says Tech Liberty co-founder Thomas Beagle. “There is no basis in the Copyright Act or Tribunal regulations for this claim.”

I don't think we can count on this kind of cack-handedness in the future. The RIANZ will perfect its procedures soon enough, and we'll start seeing punitive fines and even disconnection based on mere accusation of living in a house where the router is implicated in an unproven allegation of copyright infringement.

Music Biz Dumps First Contested Copyright Case After Botched 3 Strikes Procedure