It's been 20 years since Napster burst on the scene, and after decades of lawsuits, draconian criminal penalties, even no-knock gunpoint search warrants, there remains no evidence that "copyright enforcement" has a measurable impact on copyright infringement -- and at the same time, there's persistent, credible evidence that infringement goes down when product offerings get better and prices get more reasonable.
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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. Read the rest
Juha sez, "The New Zealand Green Party says the country's Parliament could face fines and even have its Internet access disconnected, after it passed the draconian copyright law that comes into effect on August 11. Speaker of the House refused to comment on the law, and the Minister in charge of enacting it, Simon Power, claims to not have heard of Netflix or legal file sharing."
"Like Parliament, schools, libraries and universities run the risk of fines or disconnection. Unitec in Auckland has even said they might cease providing internet services for students due to possible copyright liability," said Mr Hughes.
"The Government has a responsibility to ensure that public institutions can navigate around the new law and not run the risk of fines or disconnection.
"By not providing information or advice and relying on InternetNZ, Internet Service Providers, and the media, Mr Power has left schools and universities in a legal grey area."
The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act was passed through Parliament under urgency earlier this year. Only the Green Party opposed the passage of the law.
This is the copyright law that NZ's cynical media lobbyists rushed through as part of the Christchurch earthquake emergency legislation, using victims of awful tragedy as human shields in their quest to have the ultimate say over who may and may not use the Internet.
Parliament at risk of fines
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New Zealand's new copyright law provides for Internet disconnection for anyone whose Internet connection has been used by someone (or several someoneones) who are accused of three acts of copyright infringement. While the UN has condemned this law as disproportionate and disrespectful of human rights, its proponents often talk of its "simplicity" as a virtue (as in, "well, anyone who thinks about infringing copyright will be able to understand this: you download, you lose your network connection").
But as this three-page flowchart from the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum demonstrates, the process of disconnection is so ramified and baroque that it requires deep study just to get your head around, and easily answering questions like, "How do I appeal this?" is anything but simple.
Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act - process diagrams
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Last year, the UK government held consultation into its proposed Digital Economy Act, an extremist copyright proposal created by the unelected Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. The process that followed was as dirty as any I'd ever seen (for example, the then-head of the BPI wrote an amendment proposing a national censorship regime that a LibDem Lord then introduced on his behalf. But it turns out that there was much more sleaze below the surface.
Documents released in response Freedom of Information requests show that Mandelson had already made up his mind from the start about the Act's most controversial section: the rules that said that users would have their Internet connections terminated if enough unsubstantiated infringement claims were made against their households. The "compromise" that the Act made was to suspend this measure initially, and bring it into force if the other measures in the Act failed to substantially reduce infringement. Critics called it the sham it was, saying that a 70 percent reduction in file-sharing was a delusional target, and the FOI documents show that the Act's supporters agreed -- they only intended the compromise as a means of smuggling in France-style disconnections.
Which is to say that the whole business was a sham: the Business Secretary and his pals in the record industry had stitched the whole thing up from the start, and the thousands upon thousands of Britons who wrote in never had a hope of changing things. That's why the Act was crammed through Parliament without debate in the "wash-up," hours before Labour dissolved the government. Read the rest