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Music Piracy

NZ Copyright Tribunal Fines First File-Sharer 102

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the additional-fines-issued-for-bad-taste dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that the first successful case was brought before the copyright tribunal under NZ's three strikes law. From the article: "The first music pirate stung under new file-sharing laws has been fined $616 but 'didn't realise' the actions were illegal. The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) — which represents music studios — took an unnamed offender to the Copyright Tribunal last year for sharing songs on the Internet — a track by Barbadian pop-star Rihanna on two occasions and the other by Nashville band Hot Chelle Rae. In a decision released today, the tribunal found in RIANZ's favor and ordered the offender ... to pay a penalty $616.57." Torrent Freak has a slightly different perspective: a lack of evidence and pushback from the tribunal resulted in much smaller fines than the RIANZ wanted.
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NZ Copyright Tribunal Fines First File-Sharer

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:48AM (#42736863)

    An amusingly reasonable finding from the tribunal:

    So, with guilt under current law established, the Tribunal set about the task of a financial punishment. According to regulations, in a downloading case the cost of the infringed products must be considered. Man Down is available of iTunes for $2.39 (US$2.00) and Tonight Tonight at $1.79 (US$1.50). ...
    With this in mind the Tribunal said it would order the subscriber to pay RIANZ double the iTunes price of Man Down (2 x $2.39) and the same for Tonight Tonight (2 x $1.79) – a total of $6.57 (US$5.49). This aspect of the Tribunal’s decision will be a huge disappointment for RIANZ.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      oops, misread my own quote. It was $6.57 (NZ), or $5.49 (US).

    • by Robadob (1800074)
      According to the nzherald article there was also a $120 deterrent fine per track. Still comes to an incredibly low overall fine which is a moderate success I suppose.
      • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:06AM (#42736979)

        The whole thing is pretty reasonable.

        - $6.57 to cover the cost of the tracks
        - $50 to cover RIANZ's costs of sending the notices (and presumably other administrative costs)
        - $200 to cover the cost of bringing it before the copyright body
        - $360 ($120 per infringement) as a deterrant. The only actual punitive cost.

        Seems to me to be a perfect balance between high enough to deter people and low enough not to bankrupt people over an activity in which no one could be injured, no property can be destroyed, no one is harassed and economic damage is negligible.

        • by ledow (319597) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:14AM (#42737043) Homepage

          I would guess that if you stole, say, $6 worth of products from a store and got caught, they would charge you something similar, so yes it appears reasonable (unlike the "more than the earth is worth" fines that have been bandied about in other countries).

          - Cost of the product (though whether you experienced "permanent deprivation" of that cost is dubious, I'd award it you anyway so that people who pirate $1000 pieces of software are $1000 times as fined as someone who pirated a $1 piece of software).
          - Plus administrative fees.
          - Plus legal costs once a denial has taken place in front of a tribunal and you're still found guilty.
          - Plus a punitive damage for actually doing the naughty thing in the first place.

          Seems to be the first SENSIBLE ruling in terms of copyright on the Internet in years, in fact.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You're totally missing the point.

            The store analogy is wrong. The store paid 4$ for the product, they would have sold it for 6$, paying off the merchandise and getting a profit of 2$. Copying the songs costs nothing. NOTHING

            Do you know how people that intentionally pirate things think? Just like the WTO and Antigua did.
            The RIAA people charge you for music, that costs NOTHING for them to duplicate, and music that's so old, the artists died of old age.
            They don't respect people, why should the people respect th

        • by Anonymous Coward

          seeing as the he was charged double the going rate for the tracks as well as $120 per infringment it would appear there are two punitive costs.

          • by Kalriath (849904)

            No, she shared the same song twice. The reason it looks like double is because we get ripped off on iTunes.

        • by grumbel (592662)

          The "per infringement" thing could end up really bad when people are sharing their whole music collection. I mean three songs seems rather tiny amount for the average act of piracy, most would probably at least share the whole album, if not the whole bands history.

        • by gonz (13914)

          Seems to me to be a perfect balance between high enough to deter people and low enough not to bankrupt people over an activity in which no one could be injured, no property can be destroyed, no one is harassed and economic damage is negligible.

          What if he had downloaded 10,000 songs?

        • I would agree with your thoughts up until the punitive costs.
          $261.57 is plenty a deterrent for sharing 3 (!!) songs.

          One could see how sharing a thousand songs would still end up costing a few thousand in fees without the last punitive part. And that seems harsh enough.

        • by gravis777 (123605)

          Not only are the costs reasonable, but it makes me wonder how many other lawsuits will find their way to the courts now. Not sure how the courts work in New Zealand, but if they work on any type of precidence system, then this lawsuit set precidence that it is not going to be economically viable for the music and video industries to sue. Shoot, probably won't even cover a single lawyer's cost for a day.

        • by Mathinker (909784)

          > Seems to me to be a perfect balance between high enough to deter people and low enough not to bankrupt people

          Seems to me to be a perfect balance between the punishment and the price/inconvenience of using an offshore VPN ... but that was probably just coincidence because of the small number of infringements which were claimed.

      • This fine is only low compared to the ridiculous claims being made by the record companies. The actual cost of the music was less than 6$, so this works out to paying a penalty of roughly 100 times the value of the material he 'stole'.
        • That's the idea behind a deterrent. If the fine is so low that people are willing to pay it and go on their merry way if they get caught, there's no point in it. The deterrent needs to be high enough to make people think twice before doing it and $120 per infringement, plus covering reasonable overhead costs is right about what it should be, otherwise why bother having copyright law at all?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I'm aware of the rational behind laws and fines. My point is not that the fine should be lower, but that because of penalties record companies seek (millions) that we already consider a 100x fine to be low.
          • It also needs to function as a deterrent. If it is not effective at actually deterring people, it needs to be abolished.

            In 18th century England, shoplifting was punishable by death. But there were always lots and lots of thieves, because it wasn't an effective deterrent.

            I doubt that this thing in NZ will accomplish a whole lot other than to make people angry about copyright law, which is perhaps the opposite of what the proponents of the measure want. Personally, I think we're looking at a Tarkin's Grip sit

          • That's the idea behind a deterrent. If the fine is so low that people are willing to pay it and go on their merry way if they get caught, there's no point in it. The deterrent needs to be high enough to make people think twice before doing it and $120 per infringement, plus covering reasonable overhead costs is right about what it should be, otherwise why bother having copyright law at all?

            I think the argument is what you define as "per infringement".

            It is just as easy to share a whole library as it is to share a single song. Does that mean each sharing of a song is a single act of infringement? If so, someone's kid could still create a life-destroying event quite quickly. (5,000 songs x $120, plus other fees.)

            However, if that is a single act of infringement, it's $120 plus other fees, which would still be double the cost of all the songs according to this panel.

            One is a stiff fee and one

            • I see two ways to approach this.

              1) By copyright. If each song is copyrighted individually, then each song counts as 1 infringement. If the album is copyrighted as a whole, then one infringement per album regardless of whether it's one song or the entire album.

              2) How it's sold. If the song is normally sold individually, then each song is one infringement. If the song is normally only available as part of an album, then any and all songs from that album should be grouped together. If the song is available as

              • Those kinds of ideas don't fundamentally change anything. It's good that many people realize copyright has gotten out of hand, and make proposals like yours. But few take it to the logical conclusion, which is that copyright itself is a flawed idea, and needs radical change. I am disturbed by the number of comments here suggesting that the accused is indeed guilty and deserving of some kind of punishment, and that the fine wasn't very high, and is therefore acceptable.

                Not so! Yes, technically, he viol

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Sounds a lot like your average parking fine. Quite reasonable considering that violation is in the same ballpark.

        • by ewibble (1655195)

          It would be hard to imagine $120000 for parking fine, but not for your child sharing a 1000 songs. Imaginary property does no scale in the same fashion as real property.

          What really concerns me is what the level of proof required to impose such a penalty is. They denied the 1 offense.

          Torrent Freak has a slightly different perspective: a lack of evidence and pushback from the tribunal resulted in much smaller fines than the RIANZ wanted.

          lack of evidence should result in no fine. Although that is torrent freak so they may have been sufficient evidence, of the last act, but why would you say you did 2 and not the third?

      • by JeanCroix (99825)
        Deterrent fines for listening to Rihanna? I.. think I could be ok with that.
      • You say incredibly low overall fine, I say an incredibly sane fine.

        If I were to be fined, say, $1.5M for sharing a couple of albums on bittorrent, then that would do little to stop me doing it again. Sure, it would ruin my life, but after I declared bankruptcy, I'd probably be out doing it again, just to stick it to the man.

        If I were on the other hand to be fined over $600 for sharing a couple of tracks, that's not something that's big enough to waste tens of thousands or more of lawyer time on appeals, nor

        • by Kalriath (849904)

          Actually, you can't appeal tribunal decisions. It's final. You also can be represented by at best a solicitor, and that's only if a hearing is called (usually, our copyright tribunal decides based on paper submissions, no real-time argument. To top it off, the law instructs the tribunal to consider an accusation of infringement as evidence that infringement occurred. The burden is on you to prove that it didn't (and how do you prove a negative again?)

    • in a downloading case the cost of the infringed products must be considered. Man Down is available of iTunes for $2.39 (US$2.00) and Tonight Tonight at $1.79 (US$1.50). ...

      I wish people wouldn't confuse "cost" with "price". The cost of a product is how much money it takes to manufacture one unit. The price of a product is how much it is sold for. Gross profit = price - cost.

      • It depends on your perspective. From the seller's perspective, it's what you described. From the consumer's perspective, cost is the same as the price. It's pretty clear from the context they're referring to the cost to the consumer, which is the same as the price. You can argue that within a specific field, words have a very specific meaning, but the article is neither written by, nor targeted at, such a specific field.

  • The MAFIAAs coffin, that is.

    They simply do not understand that they with this are chipping away at the very foundation that supports their business; their customers. They might stay afloat for a while but sooner or later something is bound to crack in a big way. I feel sad for every person this happen to, but it's unavoidable.

    • by ruir (2709173)
      Agreed. Because it is a wonderful marketing move to antagonise your customer base, and those who only can afford it are politicians, or people with enough deep pockets...
  • Absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:21AM (#42737101)

    I was convicted the other year of property damage. You know, actually breaking shit. Total fine, including replacement for the property fucked up and court costs? Roughly the same as this lady has to pay for downloading three songs. That's really fucked up. I went out and deliberately and maliciously broke shit. I was caught and convicted. This lady (allegedly) downloaded three songs (one of them twice...).

    So she could have gone and thrown a rock through the RIANZ front window and got off with less*. That says something about the fucked upness of this whole situation. Hell, she probably could have gone and punched the head of the RIANZ in the fucking face and got off with a smaller fine (though probably some community work as well).

    * assumes the front window isn't a huge plate.

    • Re:Absurd (Score:4, Funny)

      by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:32AM (#42737195)

      "Hell, she probably could have gone and punched the head of the RIANZ in the fucking face and got off with a smaller fine (though probably some community work as well)."

      Wait, so she'd get community work for doing community work?

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Wait, so she'd get community work for doing community work?

        Sum total she should get back some community work done in excess.
        Don't know exactly how that would work, I guess she'd be allowed some misdemeanors or get a few downloads.

    • by mark-t (151149)

      Or... y'know... maybe... and I know this is going to sound just totally crazy here, a person could just not do illegal stuff in the first place?

      Okay, this person didn't know what they were doing was illegal. But, ignorance of the law is not an excuse to break it. It might be an excuse for a lesser judgement, however... but she certainly knows now, and, if ever caught again, the fine will probably be much worse.

      Because note.... this is a *FINE*... not a settlement. When being fined for criminal activ

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Or... y'know... maybe... and I know this is going to sound just totally crazy here, a person could just not do illegal stuff in the first place?

        Sure. As soon as the laws are reasonable, proportional, and a reflection of the will of the people and not merely what they've been coerced into accepting by a system that values money and power more than fairness, logic, and actual societal benefit, then I'll stop doing illegal stuff.

        As long as the law exists to protect the powerful, and not everyone equally, it'

        • by mark-t (151149)
          Not all copyright holders are "powerful", you know. And infringing on any copyright weakens the value of copyright for *ALL* copyright holders, not just the entity whose work was infringed.
      • > this person didn't know what they were doing was illegal.

        I didn't get that bit. Surly, she knew after the first strike? She was informed at the first occurrence, right? Or is there just some internal counter in somebody's system, which only sends out a letter once it hits 3?
      • The point is not that people shouldn't do illegal stuff. the point is how much we will punish people for doing specific illegal stuff.

        Even if you are ok with death penalty for every single crime, no matter how small it may be, I am certainly not.
    • I guess the argument is that the file sharing is more financially damaging to the RIANZ customers than if you had literally smashed their window or broken shit in their office. May seem counterintuitive at first but makes sense.

  • by SkunkPussy (85271) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:30AM (#42737171) Journal

    "but since there is a “statutory presumption” that each incidence of file-sharing alleged in an infringement notice constitutes an actual infringement of copyright,"

    This is fucking scary that there is a statutory presumption at play here. I wonder what is required to submit an infringement notice, because it seems like a simple way to convert flimsy evidence into a crime.

  • original: NZ Copyright Tribunal Fines First File-Sharer
    readable: NZ Copyright-Tribunal Fines First File-Sharer
    still readable: NZ Copyright-Tribunal Fines First File Sharer

    Copyright could be a noun, adjective, or verb. Fines could be a noun or verb. My first impression was that New Zealand was copyrighting something. I'm not sure why headlines have to have each word capitalized--I'm not even going to read the summary.
    • by PhxBlue (562201)
      Part of the problem is that /. insists on title-case in headlines, which makes them more confusing more often than not. Most newspapers these days go with sentence case, only uppercasing words that are proper nouns or the first word in the headline. "NZ Copyright Tribunal fines first file sharer" would make it more clear that we're talking about a specific governing body because the capital letters would mean something.
  • Kill it with fire!

    • At least they had the guts to call it a "tribunal" which has the subconscious association of medieval witch-hunts, heretics being put on trial by The Church, etc.

      Hopefully at one point they will catch the wrong guy that will rally the people against this... the Content Industry persecuting regular folks doing nothing more than "we" did with cassette tapes on the school yard.

      I know there's a Pirate Party of NZ [pirateparty.org.nz] but that shouldn't stop anyone from contacting the "we already know who wins because they always wi

      • Hopefully at one point they will catch the wrong guy that will rally the people against this...

        At which point, hopefully, this abomination of human institutions called "copyright tribunal" will be... (*puts on glasses*) killed with fire.

        Are you a Kiwi btw? I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in your country several years back. In & around Auckland. I'd go more often, if the trip didn't cost so much in terms of money and time.

        • by Kalriath (849904)

          His nickname would tend to indicate he's Canadian.

          For what it's worth though, the Copyright Tribunal actually exists for a completely different statutory purpose (defining mechanical royalty rates, granting authorisation to copy without rights holder consent, etc) and was "re-purposed" for this task.

          And we call everything that isn't a Court a Tribunal. We have a Disputes Tribunal as well.

  • Prometheus (Score:5, Funny)

    by srussia (884021) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @11:26AM (#42737817)
    The first fire-sharer was Prometheus. His punishment was getting his liver pecked at by an eagle every morning. NZD616 doesn't sound so bad in comparison.

    In fact, the Prometheus myth is uncannily applicable to the current IP situation:
    (a) He didn't actually steal fire, but rather replicated it (causing no loss to its owners on Mt. Olympus).
    (b) He benefited mankind by sharing it.
    (c) He got a totally incommensurate punishment from the jealous "guardians" of this easily replicable thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In America, that would have come to $616,570.00 and a few years in prison. I hate my country.

  • Do not download shitty pop music if you want to stay out of trouble.
  • by eye_blinked (2775553) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:49PM (#42741153)
    The defendant acknowledged downloading the first song but without knowing it was from an unlicensed source. She says the download of the first song caused a a bit torrent client to be installed automatically. She was unaware of the download of the second song. She was given a notice for downloading the first song twice. She is not sure how that occurred since she believed she had downloaded it only once. Then the third strike was a completely different song. The $360 is a made up on the spot "deterrent" on very shaky ground. One of the aggravating factors the tribunal claims in setting this deterrent is: "The fact that the account holder had BitTorrent protocol (uTorrent version 2.2.0) software installed on her computer. It notes that the locating, downloading, installing and configuring of such software is a deliberate act and does not occur without direct action on behalf of a computer user" http://www.nbr.co.nz/sites/default/files/images/2013%20NZCOP%201%20-%20RAINZ%20v%20Teleom%20NZ%202592_1.pdf [nbr.co.nz]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How did they even track him/her down in order to fine them?
    I guess it was via paper tape or something...

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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