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Businesses Media Music Your Rights Online

New Zealand's Recording Industry CEO Tries to Defend New Draconian Law 269

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the embrace-your-customers-instead dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Campbell Smith, CEO of the RIAA equivalent in New Zealand, has written an opinion piece for one of New Zealand's largest daily papers, in which he tries to justify the new 'presumed guilty' copyright law. This law allows recording industry members to watch file-sharing activity and notify ISPs of users who are downloading material. The copyright holder can then demand that an ISP disconnect that user — without the user ever having a chance to demonstrate their evidence."
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New Zealand's Recording Industry CEO Tries to Defend New Draconian Law

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  • What a coincidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday March 09, 2009 @02:50PM (#27124761) Homepage

    I presume politicians are corrupt until proven honest.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday March 09, 2009 @02:54PM (#27124787)

    I presume politicians are corrupt until proven honest.

    I presume CEOs aren't really politicians, although they usually own a few ;-P

  • by mangu (126918) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:02PM (#27124955)

    The recorded music industry has been working hard to find proportionate and reasonable solutions to tackling online copyright infringement. In some countries, labels have taken legal action against users who have uploaded infringing music to the internet without permission for millions to download without payment. We believe section 92A is a better solution for everyone.

    I, OTOH, am able to do simple math. Multiply the $0.99 price that's typically charged per on-line song by the 15 tracks one finds in a typical CD and you get the same $15 one pays for the CD. Add the hassle of burning and dealing with DRM.

    If people don't want to buy CDs at $15, then why do they think people would be willing to pay the equivalent of $15 for a CD online?

    Charge reasonable prices and the world will beat a path to your door.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:03PM (#27124965) Homepage

    The copyright lords don't need to get a court involved to impose sanction. Their firm allegation is all that is needed under this system. The commoner is punished, and then must go to a court to prove that the nobility were mistaken.

    People who like quick solutions and big government involvement don't like the rule of law and due process because they get in the way of accomplishing the "greater good." Ironically, the greater good is generally a myth, and if you look behind one group asking another to sacrifice its rights for the "greater good," you'll usually just find some selfish, self-centered individual who profits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:04PM (#27124975)

    The data-transfer capabilities of the Internet weaken the foundation of the artificial scarcity upon which we have built our cartel. Without the ability to forcefully stop people from sharing their resources directly with one another, we will not be able to stand as a distributive barrier between those who have talent and those who want to enjoy that talent, which in turn means we will no longer be able to create and artificially inflate revenue streams from other people's creative efforts.

    In order to ensure our continued relevance in the face of technological advances which displace us, and to ensure our continued ability to extract large sums of money without contributing anything of value (or even doing anything hard), we need laws that prevent people from capitalizing on their own resources.

    Any technology which threatens our gravy train must be made illegal, and those who use it must be punished.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:05PM (#27124987)
    "without the user ever having a chance to demonstrate their evidence" - Shouldn't the first step be the music industry showing THEIR evidence? Only once they've shown significant evidence should the user have to step up and provide their own counter evidence or attack the industry's evidence.
  • by DomainDominator (1493131) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:07PM (#27125013)
    They're a monopoly, and are gouging the consumer. If anywhere we need the DOJ antitrust working overtime it's against the RIAA.
  • by DomainDominator (1493131) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:12PM (#27125089)
    The "greater good" is whatever the men with guns decide it is. :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:19PM (#27125199)
    What do you mean "caught"? It no longer matters whether they're actually guilty.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:19PM (#27125203) Homepage

    The copyright holder can then demand that an ISP disconnects that user

    And the language in the article the implies that is...?

    without the user ever having a chance to demonstrate their evidence.

    Mmm hmm. "users should be able to flag to an independent adjudicator anything they regard as mistaken evidence" []

    Of course, I'm making the mistake of Reading The Fine Article, and trying to make evidence-based comments, rather than commenting on what I imagine the law will be like. I'm clearly The Man's bitch.

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:38PM (#27125523)

    The guy makes it sound all common sense. [Artist] checks out (say) The Pirate Bay and sees their latest hit available. They run a client, jot down IP addresses, and report to the appropriate ISPs. Bad pirates get disconnected for stealing the work of [Artist]. Who could complain?

    The trouble is - we know that's not how it'll work. It won't be [Artist] feverishly protecting their livelihood. It'll be [script], executed by an "IP protection" service acting as an agent for an Industry representative, running a drag-net search and spamming cease-and-desist letters. The ISP will be running [script2] to parse those emails and notify / disconnect users. The dragnet script will make mistakes. Often. Only the end users will be paying for those mistakes by trying to re-establish their (increasingly important) connection after being victim of said script.

    How do we know this? We can study from history [].

  • by tacarat (696339) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:40PM (#27125543) Journal

    "users should be able to flag to an independent adjudicator anything they regard as mistaken evidence"

    "Should" is an interesting word, though. RIAA's problem with it's American cases is meeting evidence criteria that a crime was committed. And that's with so called experts helping them. What will the threshold be for proving your innocence? More to the point, what will have to be done to make sure it's brought to an independent adjudicator? If the adjudicator isn't sympathetic or sufficiently technical, then a "well, you did download/share and only deleted it off your computer after the fact" argument will be sufficient to force the person to have to pay the fine or whatever. And that's assuming the person actually knows enough or has the resources to bring about a good case of innocence. If they don't and are innocent, then they're being forced to pay for a crime that they didn't even get to commit!

    Nope, don't like it.

  • by icebike (68054) on Monday March 09, 2009 @03:43PM (#27125591)

    A very succinct statement of the entire industry.

    But those with the faulty business model are not the record labels. They are simply
    doing what anyone handed an insanely lucrative monopoly would do. Milk it and Preserve it by all means possible.

    No, it is "Those who have talent" (allegedly) who have the flawed model. It hasn't been working for them for 20 years, most bands see mere pennies from each CD sale. Young, penniless, and desperate, they sign ridiculous contracts only to be raped for the rest of their lives.

    In the digital age, this failed model should break first, then the labels will disappear on their own.

    I fervently hope the labels DON'T wake up to the true potential of digital distribution. That would merely condemns another few generations of musicians to enslavement.

    New talent has to do what Doctors, Lawyers, Office Workers, Factory Workers, cops, and bus drivers have done. Embrace the technology.

  • by Geof (153857) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:07PM (#27125953) Homepage

    places like canada, or new zealand, there is a strong legal entrenchment of cultural protectionism, because there is already a perception that everyone watches american television and movies, or listens to british music, such that if "native" culture were to lose its protection, it would wither and die . . . it seems to me to be some sort of lack of confidence on the part of canucks and kiwis. or rather, enough canuck and kiwi politicians can be persuaded of this scare tactic by captains of dying media industries

    This is not the driving force for extremist copyright in Canada. The Conservatives, our current governing party, is not friendly to the arts, but they are happy to go along with American demands. Many Canadian industry and arts organizations (and many, many Canadians) are opposed to the changes, but it is largely American officials and organizations representing American interests who pay the lobbyists and get the face time with our politicians.

    Now in Quebec it is true that culture is of central political importance. The large arts organizations there are in favor of extreme copyright laws. Quebec's approach to copyright is much closer to the moral imperative of authorial control in France, les droits d'auteur, than to the pragmatism of Anglo-American copyright. And I believe there is a tradition in Quebec (as in France) of seeing large organizations as important forces for the preservation of society. Those traditions are likely to support copyright extremism regardless of what tools are at their disposal - though preservation of French culture is always one of those.

    I shouldn't open up a can of worms, but don't mock what you call "cultural protectionism". The United States followed a similar course in its early days (hence American spelling and the lack of respect for foreign copyrights). Though it has largely failed in Canada, and though it is used to justify ridiculous proposals (e.g. Canadian content quotas for web sites), the concern that originally drove it are legitimate. Canadian culture *has*, to a large extent, failed to thrive in the face of American imports. Americans own our movie distribution network, sell TV series cheaper than we can produce them but won't themselves buy material set in Canada, and so on. Americans tend to see this in terms of free markets for a cultural product. Many countries and peoples see culture as a matter of national identity. Canadians have long supported a greater role for government in the production of culture and information. The lack of confidence you describe does exist among some in Canada, but before you jump on "small countries" as being special in this regard, take a look at the culture wars in the United states (over prayer in schools, flag burning, prudishness about depictions of sex but not violence, and so on).

    Also, the "small country" stereotype doesn't work. Before you slot France in with Canada, keep in mind that it has a larger population than the U.K. (I believe surveys have found Brits suffer from lower national confindence). The U.S. has five times the population of the U.K. Canada has a tenth the population of the U.S., and about ten times the population of N.Z. English speaking countries have fewer barriers to influence by American culture, and Canada is right next door.

    The copyright war is not driven by small countries or cultural inferiority complexes. It is conducted mainly by the United States (with collaboration with allies, including Canada) at the behest of a handful of huge transnational companies like Disney, General Electric, Viacom, Fox, Time-Warner, Sony, Microsoft, a few others. Almost no countries are sufficiently powerful or independent to put up effective resistance.

  • by skuzzlebutt (177224) <jdb&jeremydbrooks,com> on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:08PM (#27125961) Homepage

    I presume they are all corrupt until they run for office again and I forget everything I've learned over the last two/four/six years.

    Sometimes a democracy seems like a bad relationship that you just can't know you're being lied to, but we manage to convince ourselves over and over that a psychotic date is better than no date at all.

  • by rhizome (115711) on Monday March 09, 2009 @04:10PM (#27125985) Homepage Journal

    The dragnet script will make mistakes. Often. Only the end users will be paying for those mistakes by trying to re-establish their (increasingly important) connection after being victim of said script.

    Not to mention that there is no provision in the proposed law that would define, much less punish, abuse of this regime. The word "impunity" comes to mind.

  • by M-RES (653754) on Monday March 09, 2009 @05:48PM (#27127271)
    No, it showed that somebody using that IP address had downloaded a movie. It doesn't prove who it was. It COULD be you, or your spouse, or a child in your household. Or it could well be your neighbour or someone parked outside your house - they're not proving that the bill payer downloaded the file or even willingly provided a service to do so.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 09, 2009 @05:53PM (#27127343)

    I live in NZ and have done a bit of research on this. You have to register your organisation before you can start making allegations. (ie. only the big boys will be able to play that game).

  • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Monday March 09, 2009 @06:08PM (#27127515)

    We also know these bots are not perfect and can lead to false-positives.

    Further the cost of false positives is not their problem. So whats the incentive to reduce false positives?

  • by greenbird (859670) * on Monday March 09, 2009 @07:05PM (#27128019)

    No, it is "Those who have talent" (allegedly) who have the flawed model. It hasn't been working for them for 20 years, most bands see mere pennies from each CD sale. Young, penniless, and desperate, they sign ridiculous contracts only to be raped for the rest of their lives.

    You don't seem to understand. The "industry" is having their paid pets in government pass laws making any business model they don't control illegal. Did you know that if you stream your own music on the internet you have to pay a fee to one of the incumbents puppet companies created by the government? The money is supposed to be distributed to the artists but they get to keep any of the money for artists they can't seem to find. So you know they look REAL hard.

  • by icebike (68054) on Monday March 09, 2009 @07:30PM (#27128283)

    Without copyright, every artist would simply resort to live performances, and we'd have a situation where hearing our favorite music was a matter of being in the right place at the right time and paying a hefty cover charge, *every time*.

    I don't believe that for a second. And deep down, neither do you I suspect.

    The problem isn't copyright.

    Other than a few Cathedral/Bazaar types, few people advocate for the total abolishment of copyright. We don't mind paying a reasonable price for good recordings. We wouldn't even mind paying per-Listening if any suitable billing system could be contrived.

    Music did not spontaneously arise upon the invention of copyright. People did, and still would, gladly pay the artists either directly OR for recordings. But we need not return to pre-copyright era to achieve a balance.

    This is my only point. The sooner the artists "grow up" and take control of a modern private electronic distribution chain, the better for all concerned.

    As for the "few" that get exploited, I think you would be surprised at the candid opinions of virtually every major recording artist on this issue. Yet, to date, they have had no real choice but to sign, sign, sign.

  • by holloway (46404) on Monday March 09, 2009 @08:43PM (#27129003) Homepage

    Mmm hmm. "users should be able to flag to an independent adjudicator anything they regard as mistaken evidence"

    Of course, I'm making the mistake of Reading The Fine Article, and trying to make evidence-based comments, rather than commenting on what I imagine the law will be like. I'm clearly The Man's bitch.

    The TCF code isn't released yet. The draft code had either the ISP judging it or the rights holder (yes, the accuser becomes the judge!). There is no established independent body of qualified experts (well, other than to take it to court).

    You might be interested in this list of problems with Section 92A.

    1. No Independent Qualified Adjudicator: There's no currently qualified or trusted independent 3rd party to judge (1) data forensics and (2) copyright law, so decisions must be based either on allegation or prosecution. Our positive solution to this is an extension in jurisdiction to the underutilised Copyright Tribunal (who currently handle only licensing disputes, of approximately one per year).

    2. Unclear Legislation: People don't know how to obey the law because it's poorly drafted and vague. The heavyweight TCF policy was written by and for conventional ISPs and it is inappropriate for the majority of "ISPs" under the new broad definition that includes libraries, schools, businesses, many homes, hotels, etc.

    3. Innocent People Framed: People can be easily framed for copyright infringement online, see [] . There are hundreds of Data Forensics experts in NZ that can tell the difference but expecting thousands of untrained businesses to do the same is impractical and ridiculous.

    4. Impractical and Technically Unrealistic Demands: Tens of thousands of internet devices in New Zealand are incapable of storing who accessed what, at what time, making corroborating accusations impossible. It would be like expecting, come March 27th, for all New Zealanders to be able to track who used a phone within a household or a business. Most phones just don't have that capability, and most network devices don't have that capability. Accurately tracking copyright infringement is a noble goal to head towards but we're not there yet and therefore S92A is unrealistic and impractical. Government could amend the definition of an "ISP" to be instead a "CSP" (commercial service provider) which would reduce the scope to conventional ISPs like Xtra and Vodafone who are capable of tracking. They could then increase the scope of an "ISP" as internet hardware improves. In the meantime people can still be taken to court as they always could to resolve disputes (or possibly a Copyright Tribunal if that's established).

    5. Business Compliance Costs: The business compliance costs of tracking (a practical necessity to corroborate future accusations) both in terms of buying tens of thousands of new hardware devices for the businesses now deemed "ISPs" have not been factored. Consumer-grade internet hardware devices capable of doing this cost approximately $750. We have been doing research on this and we may have some results early next week. It'll certainly be tens of thousands of "ISPs" who need to spend that kind of money... and then you need data forensics and copyright law knowledge to use that tracked information.

    6. A Disproportionate Punishment: Internet disconnection is a disproportionate punishment that hasn't been enforced by the courts in the past, even in extreme cases of copyright infringement (repeat commercial infringers as judged in a court didn't get this punishment). Fines would be more appropriate and would protect businesses and home users. Music Industry studies suggesting people prefer internet disconnection to fines did not consult businesses or organisations (many of whom depend on the internet as much as a phone line). Further, the law doesn't distinguish between a copyright infringement such as a thirteen year old's self

  • Re:Heh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ekhben (628371) on Monday March 09, 2009 @09:00PM (#27129143)

    A glance at a world map should enlighten you. Japan is 750 miles from the coast of China, and 1,200 miles from Hong Kong. Laying an undersea cable from Japan to an IX in China or Hong Kong is a big operation, but one that is feasible for a fairly small consortium of backbone providers to undertake. Once on dry land, it is comparatively cheap to lay more cable to increase capacity between Asia and Europe, and there's a lot of cable between Europe and North America. Going direct to North America, it's 3,800 miles to Honolulu, and another 2,400 miles to San Francisco. Those are longer and more expensive to lay, and would require a large consortium of providers to manage.

    From Australasia, you're going either north to China (4,700 miles) or north-east to California (9,500 miles). Either journey needs a large consortium. To make that consortium's life grand, the incumbent undersea cable operators have a tendency to slash prices on their cables before the new cables have even been laid, thus typically sinking the new venture before it gets out of the dock.

    There's a new thick pipe being laid down from Guam at present, around 6,000 miles of cable being laid by two ships (4,200 miles in one, the rest in the other). That cable has already been paid for, more or less, so in the next year or two things may get a bit better. Google Pipe Networks for more info.

The use of money is all the advantage there is to having money. -- B. Franklin