ISPs should pay copyright costs: AFACT

ISPs should pay copyright costs: AFACT

Summary: The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) has said that New Zealand's decision to impose a NZ$25 charge on rights holders who want internet service providers to process user copyright infringement notices is not the ideal answer to tackling the copyright problems.

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The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) has said that New Zealand's decision to impose a NZ$25 charge on rights holders who want internet service providers to process user copyright infringement notices is not the ideal answer to tackling the copyright problems.

In April, New Zealand passed the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill, which allows copyright owners to send evidence of alleged infringements to internet service providers (ISPs), who will then send up to three infringement notices to the account holder.

If the alleged offending continues, the copyright owner can take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal, which can fine the account holder up to NZ$15,000.

The Bill gives the district court the power to suspend an internet account for up to six months, in appropriate circumstances. However, this is not intended to be used unless the notice process and the remedies by the Copyright Tribunal are ineffective. The Bill comes into effect 1 September.

A NZ$25 charge has been set, which rights holders will have to pay if they want an ISP to deal with an infringing user. When a claim is taken to the Copyright Tribunal, the fee is NZ$200.

New Zealand Commerce Minister Simon Power pointed out that the fee was more cost effective than going through the courts, allowing rights holders to pursue a "reasonable number" of copyright infringements to "educate internet users" while making sure that ISPs weren't inundated with breaches to follow up.

However, AFACT, which fights piracy in Australia on behalf of film and television studios, wasn't in favour of the charge.

It pointed to the recent agreement between ISPs and rights holders in the US as an example of how an agreement should be laid out.

"AFACT notes the New Zealand Government's approach of a rights holder fee per notice, which is out of step with the more common and preferred practice in other jurisdictions where right holders and ISPs bear their own respective costs," AFACT said in a statement.

"For example, we note that in last week's voluntary agreement in the United States between the movie and music industry and the country's largest ISPs that each party agreed to bear their own costs."

AFACT has recently been trying to get Australian ISPs to act on their users who are allegedly infringing copyright, recently sending a letter to providers saying that they should act, or expect action. Although it lost its appeal in the Federal Court where it tried to show that iiNet had authorised its users to infringe copyright, lawyers have said that the judgement provides a legal avenue for the federation to have providers aid rights holders in policing copyright infringement.

iiNet and the Internet Industry Association have been asked to comment on the charge, but had not responded at the time of publication.

NZ's Power said that the NZ copyright charge would be reconsidered when the three strikes law comes into effect.

The Telecommunications User Association of New Zealand chief executive Paul Brislen said in a blog that the number was a good compromise between the NZ$40 charge ISPs wanted and the NZ$2 fee the rights holders were hoping for.

He said that users and corporate firms should be able to make sure that nobody used their account to download copyrighted material, but said that small businesses and those offering free Wi-Fi services would find this a challenge. Brislen expressed concern that the number of free Wi-Fi services could decrease as a result.

He also worried that ISPs would pass on any extra costs to provide the infringement services to customers.

Labour Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran echoed that worry, saying that the government looked to have underestimated the processing costs of the law.

"While the costs of processing alleged copyright infringements have, to some extent, been recognised with the decision to charge rights holders — predominantly US movie studios and record labels — up to NZ$25, ISPs estimate the cost could actually be as high as NZ$56 per notice," she said in a statement.

"And that doesn't include indirect costs or the cost to establish a new or upgraded system to process infringement notices."

She said it was likely that there would be a flood of notices when the law came into force on 1 September.

"Estimating the cost for affected rights holders is not straightforward. The government suggests there will be up to 500 cases of infringement taken to the Copyright Tribunal in a year, yet previous estimates put the figure closer to 5000 per month per ISP."

Topics: Broadband, Piracy, Security, Telcos, NBN

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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7 comments
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  • "For example, we note that in last week's voluntary agreement in the United States between the movie and music industry and the country's largest ISPs that each party agreed to bear their own costs."

    Yeah well in that country the largest ISPs are owned by the music and movie industry, so that's hardly a fair comparison
    Why let FACT get in the way of a good story
  • If ISPs weren't hit up with millions of complaints in other countries there would be no need to reduce their screams to something reasonable.

    If they want less piracy, how about letting us pay for content such as via spotify and netflix? While DVDs and Blueray disks may be of interest to some, where is the Australian video on demand service such as neflix? If people in the states can pay less the $8AU a month, why can’t we. The internet gives everyone a global delivery ability so you can’t use the tired old argument that we are a smaller market, costing more to deliver here. iinet tryed to engage Afact on these issues, but Afact (as a representative of the media companies) would rather sue then fix their shitz.

    http://www.spotify.com
    https://signup.netflix.com/global
    Paul Krueger
  • IF AFACT want the ISP's to send out notices, then they MUST pay the ISP's costs to do so.
    No if's or buts. IN NZ they are doing it right, in making the rights holders pay $25 per message at least.
    As the onus is on the Rights Holders to to the work and pay. By rights they should go thru the courts. Making AFACT pay per message would stop spurious send outs.
    michael461
  • $25 is cheaper than a cd :) .. And just like buying a CD your commited to pay regardless of whether or not it gives you any joy. It also doesnt require a second equal payment if it gets scratched.
    nissy-2f939
  • I see an explosion of TOR type networks protocols/software directly integrated into P2P client packages as a core response from the real world. destroying all ability for right holders to track infringement.

    That said the likes of Telstra, Optus, iiNet, TPG etc are essentially holding out for better deals on licences (and costs) to distribute media over their network.

    They don't really care that much for those who break the law when it comes to copyright. If it wasn't in their best interest they would have sold us down the river like the recent deal between MPAA, RIAA with AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. Most of those carriers were already are media right holders/publishers/licencor or already involved in the supply of media over their Cable TV networks. In otherwords they all had a vested interest in destroying fair use.

    Of course the reason why Australian right holder agencies have refused to negotiate is becuase their primary customers, the publishers stand to lose a significant amount of their lucrative margin to the Aussie Telcos.

    Like the Americans it would seem the cleverest strategy here would be for one party to simply buy the other. However it would seem with so much horizontal intergration/consolidation going on in both industries I don't think anyone has the wallet to vertically integrate.

    just enough money for a senseless back and forth with a view of bribing enough politicians to break the stalemate.
    chugs@...
  • A lot of people are overlooking the worst parts of the NZ law: 1) The law presumes guilt upon accusation. The law explicitly states that infringement notices (issued by the rights holder) constitute conclusive evidence of infringement in front of the Copyright Tribunal. 2) The law makes the account holder responsible, not the actual infringer (if they are different people). Just by being the account holder in a shared-internet situation could leave you liable for $15k fines for stuff you didn't do.

    This is simply a bad law, regardless of your position on copyright infringement.
    geofftnz
  • It does seem unfair to be fined for something someone else did on your connection, but those people using your connection should be connected to you. The place where I see it getting murky is for small businesses or free Wi-Fi hotspots.
    suzanne.tindal