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New Zealand's Copyright Tribunal to hear first cases

Skynet three strikes laws to be enforced

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The New Zealand music industry has taken aim at illegal music downloaders threatening to use the controversial ‘Skynet’ law for the first time before the new Copyright Tribunal.

The three strikes, Skynet law, passed in September last year allows copyright owners to send evidence of alleged infringements to carriers and ISPs, who l then send up to three infringement notices to consumer for a cease and desist. If they do not comply, the copyright holder has the right to take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal, which can fine up to NZ$15,000 per infringement.

The New Zealand Recording Industry Association (RIANZ), a cabal representing the major labels including EMI, Sony and Universal has been active in issuing infringement notices - with 2700 racked up to date - but is now taking up to the next level to make an example of three alleged illegal downloaders that used Telecom New Zealand's network.

That carrier's spokesperson Jo Jalfon told The Register the company was not in a position to know how the customers allegedly infringed the copyright of others.

"We don’t monitor our customers’ internet traffic. Our role in the Copyright Infringing File Sharing regime is match notices we receive from copyright owners - who detect the copyright infringing - to our customers via a time stamped IP address and forward those notices on," she said.

The carrier deferred any detail on the alleged infringements to RIANZ. "We don’t know what our role will be in the proceedings, that will be up to the Copyright Tribunal to decide," she said.

The Justice Ministry confirmed that RIANZ has instigated the action but has yet to reveal details of the case.

While New Zealand attracted a lot of attention in finalising the copyright crackdown law it has yet to apply the full force of it.

RIANZ has been the biggest agitator issuing notices to for illegal music downloads across all carriers. However the movie content industry, which vociferously argued for the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act, has yet to issue any serious warnings.

The lack of activity from the local film industry casts an ironic shadow on the global spotlight placed on Kim Dotcom’s extradition trial and his very public war against the MPAA. ®

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