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Three-strikes cuts piracy in New Zealand, says local record industry

By | Published on Wednesday 25 July 2012


Piracy rates have halved in New Zealand since the introduction of a so called three-strikes system there, according to The Recording Industry Association Of New Zealand, though the labels group says more can still be done, and that the fee charged to rights owners each time they instigate a ‘stop blood file-sharing you bastard’ letter should be cut.

As much previously reported, New Zealand is one of a handful of countries to have introduced what labels like to call a ‘graduated response’ system for combating illegal file-sharing, via which internet service providers are forced to send warning letters to suspected file-sharers, usually with the ultimate threat of some kind of sanction if warnings are not headed (eg a fine, net suspension, public exposure of all the Justin Bieber tracks they’ve downloaded, that kind of thing).

So far, says RIANZ, some 2766 warning letters have been sent out, and handful of those accused of file-sharing have now reached strike three, according to TVNZ, though they are yet to face the Copyright Tribunal where they could face a fine of up to NZ$15,000.

According to the record industry trade body, there has been a noticeable drop in file-sharing in the country since the new rules went live – with one stat claiming that, whereas before three-strikes the top 200 movies of the moment would be illegally downloaded up to 110,000 times a month in the country, that number has now dropped to 50,000.

But, RIANZ adds, while progress has been made, 40% of New Zealanders still routinely access unlicensed content on the net, and more should be done. The solution, in the trade body’s mind, is to reduce the fee to the rights owners for instigating a three-strikes letter from the current NZ$25 to NZ$2, so that labels could increase their letter requests by more than tenfold.

Three-strikes, of course, has been contentious wherever it has been proposed, and there were initial delays getting the system live in New Zealand because of protests and disagreements as to how the letter sending should work. Stats from South Korea, where three-strikes is also live, as well as these from New Zealand, both suggest graduated response warning letters can have an impact on file-sharing, though those who oppose the whole thing would likely interpret data differently.

In the UK, of course, the 2010 Digital Economy Act provided the framework for a three-strike system (well, for strike one anyway), though as yet no warning letters have been sent. A stack of celebrity musicians put their name to an open letter this week calling on PM David Cameron to prioritise getting the graduated response process described in the DEA live as soon as possible.

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