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$616.57 Three Strikes Verdict Cost RIANZ $250,000 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the gotta-spend-money-to-make-money! dept.
Dangerous_Minds writes "On Wednesday, we discussed news that RIANZ convicted its first file-sharer under the New Zealand three strikes law. While the fine totaled $616.57, a New Zealand Herald report points out that in order to get that fine, RIANZ had to spend $250,000. Freezenet makes an interesting point that HADOPI (France's version of the three strikes law) faced similar problems when the Socialist party commented that 12 million euros was a lot of money to pay 60 agents to send out 1 million e-mails. The question raised is whether or not this money pit trend will continue when the Copyright Alert System starts processing strike notices in the United States."
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$616.57 Three Strikes Verdict Cost RIANZ $250,000

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  • Heads on pikes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:00AM (#42761607)
    The problem is, it's worth $250K to MAFIAA. Every head publicly displayed on a pike serves a purpose: "pour encourager les autres". It's an advertising expense. Pay up, or this could happen to you, too.
    • Re:Heads on pikes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:07AM (#42761699)

      But is it? What if someone set up a fund? Every $1 you contribute costs them roughly $400. Would you contribute a buck to legally cost the RIAA/MPAA a real $400, not a fake imaginary potential $400?

      Then honeypot them with lots of tiny 1-2 file shares that will result in similar very tiny payouts. At that rate they will be bankrupt or give up within a year.

      • IANAL (Score:5, Funny)

        by srussia (884021) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:14AM (#42761767)

        But is it? What if someone set up a fund? Every $1 you contribute costs them roughly $400

        I am not a lawyer, but I now feel a strange urge to become one.

      • by mark-t (151149)

        Good luck with that.

        The problem with that theory is it requires enough willing participants to carry out. And the thing is, believe it or not, if enough people get dinged for this, however much it costs the organizations to do it, then that fine is genuinely going to act as a discouraging factor, reducing the number of potentially willing participants in your proposed scheme.

        Tell you what though... if somebody does manage to pull off what you describe, I'll certainly admit to being wrong. That doesn'

        • by CCarrot (1562079)

          Good luck with that.

          The problem with that theory is it requires enough willing participants to carry out. And the thing is, believe it or not, if enough people get dinged for this, however much it costs the organizations to do it, then that fine is genuinely going to act as a discouraging factor, reducing the number of potentially willing participants in your proposed scheme.

          Tell you what though... if somebody does manage to pull off what you describe, I'll certainly admit to being wrong. That doesn't change what I currently expect the outcome to be, however.

          Huh? What do you think the $1 collection is for?

          I interpreted it as contributing to a fund that is used to pay the fines of those poor souls caught in this predicament, as long as they contested the charges and dragged it out enough to make it unprofitable for the claimants. He mentions setting up honeypots, but those wouldn't necessarily have to be tied to different people as long as each honeypot is a separate instance...it just increases the chances to get the RIAA/MPAA to 'bite' on a situation that wi

          • Re:Heads on pikes (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Friday February 01, 2013 @02:13PM (#42763905) Journal

            Like I said.... good luck with that.

            What basis do you have for believing that such a fund could realistically hope to cover the costs for enough cases that it might bankrupt those companies?

            And even by offering to cover such costs in advance, it might be argued (they do have good lawyers, after all) that the person infringing on copyright with advance knowledge that the fine they could expect to pay has been given economic incentive to do so (even if not a monetarily profitable one), elevating it to the level of commercial infringement, where the damages will be orders of magnitude higher. Oh, and the organizers of the fund could end up being liable for deliberate contributory infringement as well, since they would have already admitted that they intended to pay such fines.

            So.... tell me. How many volunteers do you think you are liable to get, that are willing to take the financial risks involved with financially supporting copyright infringers?

            • by CCarrot (1562079)

              Like I said.... good luck with that.

              What basis do you have for believing that such a fund could realistically hope to cover the costs for enough cases that it might bankrupt those companies?

              And even by offering to cover such costs in advance, it might be argued (they do have good lawyers, after all) that the person infringing on copyright with advance knowledge that the fine they could expect to pay has been given economic incentive to do so (even if not a monetarily profitable one), elevating it to the level of commercial infringement, where the damages will be orders of magnitude higher. Oh, and the organizers of the fund could end up being liable for deliberate contributory infringement as well, since they would have already admitted that they intended to pay such fines.

              So.... tell me. How many volunteers do you think you are liable to get, that are willing to take the financial risks involved with financially supporting copyright infringers?

              Really? Is this what happens when people choose legal aide lawyers, say? I know, I know, this is civil, not criminal law...but to my mind this is basically equivalent to a croud-funded class action lawsuit, only one where the claimant chooses how many people are participating in it. After all, the 'damages' they want to claim are criminal...but yes, IANAL. There may very well be no airtight legal way to set something like this up. That's a real shame.

              • by mark-t (151149)
                Were you, perhaps, unaware that copyright infringement actually *IS* a crime?
                • by CCarrot (1562079)

                  Were you, perhaps, unaware that copyright infringement actually *IS* a crime?

                  Yeah, so is jaywalking. If it's such a terrible crime, why don't they push for jail time instead of money, then? Will this settlement show up on a criminal records check? I don't think so.

                  No, they've made it pretty clear that this is simply their new business model, intended to prop up their old, outdated business model. Where I live, they're already charging a levy on blank storage devices, assuming that everyone is going to be using them to host copied content...guilty until proven innocent. Better y

                  • by mark-t (151149)

                    Actually, if the infringement can be shown to be deliberate and intentional, then it *CAN* warrant jail time. Oh, and yes, it most certainly can impact a person's criminal record.

                    Where I live (Canada), there's a blank media levy also... however, the levy is not given on the presumption I will make illegal copies of works... the levy is to subsidize private copying only, an activity that is completely legal.

                    The problem with incidental copyright infringement like what you describe yourself participati

            • by c0lo (1497653)

              So.... tell me. How many volunteers do you think you are liable to get, that are willing to take the financial risks involved with financially supporting copyright infringers?

              Ummmm.. I don't know, but you may be surprised.
              I mean... a scheme of insurance against fare fines [theage.com.au] was quite successful until threatened. And it was a scheme that offered probably a much lower rate: something like 1:15 ($20/month insurance premium against... say 30 day x $10/day trip fares=$300).

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        No, because the tribunal will see that as willful infringement and will not be inclined to hand out such tiny payments. In fact, you'd probably end up being hit with something closer to the statutory $15,000 maximum.

      • That's what occurred to me too. How about people contribute Fine+ X dollars, so that people are compensated for their time and effort?

        I don't really think it would work, because the gummint would likely change the rules. Unless ... it's a country that net benefits by no copyright, so that they're just making penalties to comply with treaty obligations. "Oh, hey, it's illegal, but we can't prevent people from giving other people money."

        I suspect that in the US, they'd go after people with RICO laws.

    • Except that $600 is not exactly head on a pike. Sure some of the US verdicts were insane, and could be used to intimidate people, even if they weren't worth it from a purely financial standpoint. But so much work for a measly 600 bucks?

      • by click2005 (921437) *

        $600 for 3 songs is still a big fine.

        • Sure it's still excessive, but it's not much of a threat if you think about it. A penalty of $100K might scare people into not risking being the one in a million being hit with a lawsuit. $600 bucks won't scare anyone, and MAFIAA can't even use it to scare people into settling for thousands of dollars.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          It is a significant fine, yet much more reasonable than what happens in the US. Quite reasonable even I'd say, considering the offense committed.

          However part of the problem is that there are maybe 10s of millions of people sharing such files in France alone, and just one got fined. The chance for any individual to be next, is so small, that people simply take that risk. In the US it's not much different.

          As long as the chance of being caught and fined is about as much as winning the jackpot in a lottery, not

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      not true even remotely.

      While MAFIAA may be incredibly stupid, don't think their finance people are as stupid. It's not hard for them to figure out if it's not worth the money.

      • "While MAFIAA may be incredibly stupid, don't think their finance people are as stupid. It's not hard for them to figure out if it's not worth the money."

        Exactly. When numbers were grossly in their favor, the copyright trolls were actually looking at this as a cash cow. There have been several statements by organizations and private firms that they were after the money, not principle. They wanted to be "compensated for their losses", if not make an outright profit.

        But when they *lose* money, what then?

        The problem is the U.S. has been statutory damages. The law originally only targeted actual "pirates", who sold copyrighted works for money. Then it was

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          statutory damages are easily fought off by asking for a trial. This has been the fun/issue of all of the settlement shakedowns to exist currently. Get a letter? get a lawyer and immediately lawyer up, and watch them try to run away. refuse to settle, and go from there.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            statutory damages are easily fought off by asking for a trial.

            Unless you are Jammie Thomas.

            • Jammie Thomas was guilty of breaking all of the laws she was accused of breaking, plus perjury and I believe obstruction of justice. Thats probably not the poster child you want to use.

            • "Unless you are Jammie Thomas."

              I'm not sure. IIRC, it was a jury that granted a huge amount for damages, then a judge (not jury) who overturned that large amount, and another judge who made it larger again.

        • Re:Heads on pikes (Score:4, Interesting)

          by thoughtfulbloke (1091595) on Friday February 01, 2013 @03:24PM (#42764839)
          You asked "When they *lose* money, what then?".
          They bill the artists the costs of "protecting the artist's copyrights"
      • by Drishmung (458368)

        not true even remotely.

        While MAFIAA may be incredibly stupid, don't think their finance people are as stupid. It's not hard for them to figure out if it's not worth the money.

        Apparently, it is.

        If they thought about it, it's obvious that this isn't going to recover money. As the thread title says, it's about heads on pikes. The aim is to scare people into not downloading.

        Of course, even that is not really the aim. The argument actually goes like:

        • 1. We used to make lots of money
        • 2. We don't make as much as we used to (actually, we don't think we are making as much money as we think we should be)
        • 3. The kids are downloading it and not paying us
        • 4. Let's count every download as a los
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's actually an employment program. you know, giving the economy a boost!

    • If the guy is actually guilty, and the fine is not excessive, why is it immediately necessary to attack the copyright group? Is there anything in this article that indicates a wrong was done to the "convicted file-sharer"?

      From one of the articles,
      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

      • Re:Heads on pikes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nabsltd (1313397) on Friday February 01, 2013 @12:44PM (#42762703)

        If the guy is actually guilty,

        There is some question as to whether the girl (I know, RTFA is a crime on /.) is guilty of any infringement. She admitted to downloading one song, and that song was listed twice in the lawsuit for some reason. She says she never downloaded the other song. There was no indication that any uploading took place, but the RIANZ never had to even try to prove it, as it was assumed she had uploaded because she had been sent a notice.

        and the fine is not excessive,

        More than 150x actual damages (since she only downloaded two songs, not three) isn't excessive?

        why is it immediately necessary to attack the copyright group?

        Maybe because they are stupid for spending $250K to recover $600?

        Is there anything in this article that indicates a wrong was done to the "convicted file-sharer"?

        Because there was no "conviction". There was merely an accusation, which under the "three strikes" law is a presumption of guilt. If other laws worked that way, all I'd have to do to put you in jail for life is to say you murdered some person, without even having to prove the person was dead (or even existed in the first place). Don't like that analogy because it's criminal? OK, then you have infringed on my patent, please pay me $600, because I say so, and my accusation is proof enough that you are guilty.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Because copyright itself is unjust and should be abolished.

        • Good news: As a democratic government, both NZ and the US have mechanisms whereby that can happen, if you can get the majority of the populace to agree with you.

          Bad news: The majority of the populace does not agree with you.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            The fact that the majority favors an unjust law doesn't make it any more just. Slavery was favored by the majority of Americans for our first 100 years. Those who broke the law were heroes.

            • There is no reason I can fathom why copyright laws innately fall into categories of "right" or "wrong" in the way that slavery does, except in the general sense that all government laws do by virtue of restricting other humans.

              In other words, you can argue that copyright goes too far very easily and I would agree that is possible.

              But the argument that copyright laws in themselves are unjust is not a battle I think you will be able to defend in the least; if you have a rationale for that statement I would be

    • Isn't that called racketeering?
      • by Immerman (2627577)

        No, racketeering is when you do the exact same thing without first making the required political donations.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      The problem is, it's worth $250K to MAFIAA

      Is it actually worth $250K? Does each prosecution convince 10,000 people to spend $25 on music?

  • Like policians care (Score:5, Informative)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:03AM (#42761649)

    Citizens see the cost situation like this:

    Cost to pursue and prosecute these cases -(is greater than)- The return in fines + the benefit to society.

    Politicians see it like this:

    Donations to my campaign from the media industries + Future support from my party -(is greater than)- Any backlash from voters about the cost

  • and it should be accepted as such. Capitalist games for creating misery may or may not succeed, but it is important for us to be on guard at all times. Some people will never learn.
    • Its a crime, and a very specific one. Im not sure what school of law you went to, but I somehow get the feeling that not many of its graduates pass the bar.

      • Actually, file sharing is not in of itself a crime - file sharing is simply a transfer of date, what is being trnasferred could constitute a crime.
        • Actually, file sharing is not in of itself a crime - file sharing is simply a transfer of date, what is being trnasferred could constitute a crime.

          "File sharing" is just a convenient shorthand for copyright infringement, It's not the actual name of the crime. The same way that people talk about "possesion" being illegal when they are really talking about possession of illegal drugs.

  • Defense costs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:08AM (#42761713) Journal

    This works both ways. If it cost $250,000 to prosecute in NZ, it will probably cost $250,000 to defend against in the US. Any interaction with the justice system in the US is likely to ruin one, financially if not emotionally.

    • Re:Defense costs (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:14AM (#42761759)

      In the end, only the lawyers win.

    • Re:Defense costs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:14AM (#42761763)

      I wonder if this is more record labels bookeeping. We wond the case but we can't pay the copyright owner because our expenses exceeded our income.

      Anyone have an itemised list of the expenses.. What was this money spent on anyway? Sounds steep to me.. Now if only the city had to pay that rate to issue a redlight camera or photo radar ticket..

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        I wonder if this is more record labels bookeeping. We wond the case but we can't pay the copyright owner because our expenses exceeded our income.

        Anyone have an itemised list of the expenses.. What was this money spent on anyway? Sounds steep to me.. Now if only the city had to pay that rate to issue a redlight camera or photo radar ticket..

        well that's exactly what it is. the 250 000 is money paid to the organizations workers.

      • by CCarrot (1562079)

        I wonder if this is more record labels bookeeping.

        Wait, they're keeping scary bees now? In what, a haunted hive?

        Sorry, couldn't resist, it tickled my funnybone :o)

      • by volmtech (769154)
        Love the red light cameras, they even host the video for you to view your transgression. Got to see my wife follow another car turning right one second after the light turned red. $158.00 fine.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      A lot of people defend themselves in the UK. It is actually becoming a big issue because it slows down proceedings. The judge must try to ensure a fair hearing, and even if the people who hired lawyers win they don't automatically get their costs paid. Judges tend not to award legal costs when the defendant is an individual going up against a large company anyway.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        That would be great if it worked that way in the US. The Copyright Alert System that's going into place in the US even lets you see the inside of a courtroom. They shut you down up front, without a hearing of any sort, and you have to pay them in order to get an appeal in front of their mediator.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:16AM (#42761787)

    It seems to me that RIANZ is doing better than the HADOPI as they charge the media companies $25 per warning while the cost of the French notices is only 10 euros.

    Both of these are ridiculously low. Legal notices should cost at least $100.

     

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      €10 EUR is pretty close to $25 NZD. And they have to pay for all three, and the tribunal doesn't have to award them the costs of those back. And, they can only send one a month per person.

  • Easy solution. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204)

    Why is it so expensive? Because it has to go through all the legal process of gathering evidence, formal accusation, defence and so on. I predict that the next step will be for RIANZ to call for the process to be 'streamlined' by taking away all that expensive 'innocent until proven guilty' rubbish and just automating the lot: Enforcer bot finds suspect file, informs ISP, ISP adds the fine on the customer's next bill. So much cheaper than due process.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Red light traffic cameras

    • Ahh, but that's already happened.

      If you look at what the man was accused of, you'll see that he's asked to prove a negative.

      He was accused of downloading one file twice, and another file. What's interesting is that he admits to downloading the first file once, but he used bittorrent with default settings. So apparently, restarting your client now counts as a second download. What's also interesting is that he flat out denies downloading the Second file.

      So, a man comes to this thing and flat out apologize

    • by ljw1004 (764174)

      Did you read the New Zealand case? They already did away with "innocent until proven guilty". In particular

      [14] There is insufficient evidence before the Tribunal for it to make detailed findings on these factual issues,. That is the nature of the decision being made on the papers. On the basis of the information available to it, however, together with the statutory presumption that each incidence of file sharing identified in an infringement notice constitutes an infringement of the right owner's copyright

  • Its been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. In New Zealand the price for file sharing is $616.57. Seems about right...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The answer to this Copyright nonsense is simple: Consume only content that you can legally share.
    When it is no longer profitable to produce things that people can't share, corporations will stop producing them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The answer to this Copyright nonsense is simple: Consume only content that you can legally share.
      When it is no longer profitable to produce things that people can't share, corporations will stop producing them.

      Ha, the answer is to go to a party with your friends and start sharing those 2 TB hard drives.
      No internet, no RIAA/MPAA snooping and they're none the wiser.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        and since a network wasn't involved it's not even wire fraud but just plain old copyright infringement even if the cops do come knocking.

      • Well, at least youre honest in your utter contempt for the law.

        Not exactly sure why youre bringing the MPAA / RIAA into it, however.

        • by Hatta (162192)

          If the government won't respect the law, why should I?

          • Because anarchy is about the worst form of government there is.

            Our societies "work" when the majority of people follow the majority of the laws. Everyone with the attitude you express chips away at that.

            • by Hatta (162192)

              Because anarchy is about the worst form of government there is.

              You can blame the government for not following its own laws for that. If they want me to play by the rules, they need to play by the rules. Anything else and I'm just a sap.

              • by Kalriath (849904)

                Then hold your government accountable for it, rather than just ignoring the laws you don't like. Your argument is an excuse, not a justification. And it's not even a good one.

      • Ha, the answer is to go to a party with your friends and start sharing those 2 TB hard drives. No internet, no RIAA/MPAA snooping and they're none the wiser.

        I have seen kids so fixated on downloading, they stared blankly at me when I suggested that they could actually feed the CDs they owned into iTunes on their computer, instead of downloading the music. Now the idea that you could borrow a friend's CDs, carry them to your home, and do the exact some thing with a friend's CDs, I would of course never suggested it, but if I did, they wouldn't have understood.

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:25AM (#42761899)

    These cushy arrangements are the result of blatant political corruption. "Fund my campaign, and we'll see to it that you get these bullshit unfair laws to prop up for decaying business model and undermine the free market"

    Lobbying == legalized political corruption.

    The American disease is spreading, first to the Anglo countries, and developing countries with weak governments, then Europe, then everyone else.

    Too bad the anti-corruption movement, e.g. Lawrence Lessig's Rootstrikers can't getting any critical mass.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well... the business here is really the business of sending notices and fining people. they send bills to both rights holders and to the people they fine.

  • The French branch of the RIAA was much smarter: have the tax payer pick up the bill.

    French President François Hollande ran his campaign with the promise he would abrogate (abolish) the HADOPI three-strikes law. Yeah, we've seen how that worked out, right, French voters? And the word on the web [melty.fr] is that the law is just going to be changed, so you will get a 140 Euro fine right at the first "strike" with unlimited strikes to follow (instead of strike I propose the term "ka-ching", as in "Gee, that's my

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > as in "Gee, that's my third ka-ching this year, and it's only February!"

      I'm wondering how many ka-chings before "I was just watching these myself, but now I have to sell pirated DVDs to recoup costs."

    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      French President François Hollande ran his campaign with the promise he would abrogate (abolish) the HADOPI three-strikes law. Yeah, we've seen how that worked out, right, French voters?

      If that was the only new presidency missed opportunity, we would be happy

  • by cabraverde (648652) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:38AM (#42762047)
    RIANZ will be weighing $250,000 against the deterrent effect this will have on filesharers. NOT the return they get in fines.

    Perhaps that's money well spent from their point of view. It doesn't seem like it, but I'm in no position to judge.
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      RIANZ will be weighing $250,000 against the deterrent effect this will have on filesharers. NOT the return they get in fines.

      Absolutely correct. Now, everyone raise their hand who thinks $600 in fines will be an effective deterrent. Or that some effective change actually comes about before politicians lose enough face to start to get de-elected.

    • IANAL but doesn't this also cement in case law a successful outcome, thus making all further prosecutions a thing of rote? Can they now just use the system to send out 3 strikes, then a sheriff to claim the bill and possibly skip the courts altogether?

  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:39AM (#42762069) Homepage
    You can't spell "Pyrrhic victory" without "victory"! Yay!
  • by judoguy (534886) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:56AM (#42762209) Homepage
    Government exists to consume resources. Any benefits to the citizens/subjects are incidental.

    I really believe that.

    I also believe that some government is a lot better than no government. The current U.S. problem is WAY too much government.

    Government is at it's best when it provides for the lightest possible framework for us to live and work together.

    Sensible people can debate where to draw that line, but now in the U.S. at least, the only argument going is how much parasitic government we can have without immediately killing the host.

  • > The question raised is whether or not this money pit trend will continue

    God, I hope so.

  • RIANZ has paid 250k in total, the 616 dollars represents the result of the first case. They have sent out notices to roughly 6000 alleged infringers though. So if we assume that 616 is an average results ( I know that a sample of one is not very representative ), then we can expect that they will pull in 616*6000 which is approximately 3.7 million dollars. Lets wait til the dust settles to start scoring winners and losers.
    • I made a similar comment above in response to another post, but this sounds like paying $250k investment the first time around to ensure that you set a solid precedent in the courts that is unassailable. Thereafter is is a simple case of issuing bills and charging the bailiff/sheriff with the task of recovering it.

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