The first infringement notices for internet piracy have been issued in New Zealand under its controversial new "three strikes" or "Skynet" Copyright Act.
Internet service providers (ISPs) reported yesterday that around 100 such notices were issued from the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ). RIANZ confirmed to ZDNet Australia that the organisation sent out notices yesterday.
Telecom NZ said it received 42 notices from RIANZ to issue copyright infringement notices, while Telstra-Clear and Vodafone declined to say how many notices they had received, although Vodafone confirmed it had received some.
Telecom spokesperson Anna Skerton says 35 of the 42 infringement notices from RIANZ concerned Rihanna, six Lady Gaga and one Taio Cruz.
Telecom, she says, has seven days to see if the infringement requests comply with the act before it sends them out.
"We haven't received any further notices. We still stand at the 42 sent yesterday," she told ZDNet Australia.
Vodafone NZ spokesperson Matt East also confirmed the telco had received infringement notices.
"However, we will not be providing running totals, details or numbers on the infringement side. We will process the notices as required by the act," he told ZDNet Australia.
Paul Brislen, CEO of the Telecom Users Association, says he has "no sympathy" for those downloading music as they can easily obtain music from iTunes.
Brislen confirmed the notices issued yesterday were the first, but he did not know who would be getting them.
"It has taken a long time to get here. We are now seeing them getting passed to the end users. They have started arriving. The waiting game is over and now we are going to see how the process works," he said.
Under the procedure RIANZ must pay NZ$25 per notice to recompense ISPs for sending the notices to their customers, but they would recoup costs if the infringements continue and the internet downloaders are fined after a "third strike". As the law stands, customers accused of piracy can be fined up to NZ$15,000 once they have received their third infringement notice.
However, businesses faced greater problems from the law, which came into force on 1 September.
"The biggest problem for business is the cost of compliance," Brislen continued.
"They have to secure their networks. There is legal compliance, company usage policies. This is the big cost to business. We have had cases of cafes not bothering to go ahead with free Wi-Fi," he said.
The infringement notices are likely to fuel further controversy over copyright in New Zealand as the country approaches its general election later this month.
Despite proposing a more hard-line stance when in government three years ago, the opposition Labour Party now opposes the current "three strikes" legislation.
The ruling National Party, which passed the current Act earlier this year, has yet to announce its ICT manifesto, but the government has said there would be a review of the Act in 2013, along with the currently unused provision of disconnecting offenders for six months.