Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Illegal downloader fined

The first case under the new copyright act has been heard at the Copyright Tribunal. An unidentified internet user has been fined $616.57, of which "The tribunal ordered the pirate to pay the costs of purchasing the tracks ($6.57), $50 towards the costs RIANZ incurred for sending the notices and $200 for the cost of bringing the case to the copyright body. The offender was also ordered to pay a deterrent sum of $360 ($120 per infringement)."

Read the full judgement on NBR's site.

The NZ Herald reports that "The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) ... took an unnamed offender to the Copyright Tribunal last year for sharing songs on the internet - a track by Rihanna on two occasions and the other by Hot Chelle Rae.

NBR reports that "In a letter from the defendant included with the decision, she says she accepts responsibility for downloading the first song, Rihanna's "Man Down" although she had not been aware her actions were illegal at the time.

"She writes she subsequently had trouble deleting a BitTorrent file sharing programme called utorrent, which led to a subsequent inadvertent download. She did not know how another song, "Tonight, Tonight" by Hot Chelle Rae, came to be downloaded over the connection. "It was not done by myself or anyone in this household," she wrote."

Rianz said in a statement that "It is disappointing some account holders do not take meaningful action when first advised their connection was being used to flout the law."

Its; worth noting that filesharing  programmes like utorrent generally set themselves up so they will automatically open when you start up your computer, and it appears this user didn't know it did that.

From NZ Herald:  "In a decision released today, the tribunal found in RIANZ's favour and ordered the offender (who was a Telecom customer) to pay a penalty $616.57.

The ruling was the first of its kind under a 2011 copyright law change that allows rights holders - like movie studios or music companies - to issue notices to users believed to be illegally downloading or uploading copyrighted content. After a third notice, rights holders can bring a case before the tribunal, which can fine an offender up to $15,000.

Although only two songs were involved in this case, RIANZ sent a second notice about the Rihanna song to the offender around seven months after the first.

In a submission to the tribunal, the music pirate claimed ignorance to the illegality of the offending. "The first song downloaded was a song called Man Down by Rihanna. I accept responsibility for this. I downloaded the song unaware that in doing so from this site was illegal," the submission said.

However, the offender did not claim responsibility for the Hot Chelle Rae track. "It wasn't [downloaded] by myself or anyone in this household," the submission said. While the pirate only referred to downloading the songs, RIANZ's claimed the offending was for uploading the music.

This was accepted by the tribunal, which also said it was possible the pirate only intended to download the music over the file-sharing network where the offending took place.."

ADDED Jan 31: Thomas Beagle of TechLiberty has written an interesting analysis of this test case and what it means, worth a read...

Snip: "... It seems clear from the quoted part of the respondent's submission that they have no real idea about how file sharing via bittorrent works. RIANZ and the Tribunal both also seem somewhat blind to the reality that a default uTorrent installation will set itselt to automatically restart whenever the computer is restarted, and will thus keep sharing until stopped...."

"this case once again demonstrates two of the key weaknesses of the law:

"There is no way to prove your innocence. No one in New Zealand keeps the kind of detailed network logs that would be necessary to prove that you hadn't done what you were accused of. All you can do is assert that you didn't do it and the Tribunal has just shown that they will ignore this.

"The responsibility falls on the account holder, not the people using the internet to infringe copyright. In this case the respondent admitted she had downloaded the first track, apologised and had taken steps to stop it happening again. She denied downloading the third track that triggered off the penalty and suggested that someone else might have done it. Obviously we can't know if she was telling the truth, but the reality is that most internet connections are shared and this could easily happen.

"These two points are going to come up again and again. It seems certain that in many cases justice will not be done, with the account holder taking the fall for sloppy detective work on the part of RIANZ and the ISP, or the actions of other people sharing their internet account..."

ADDED Jan 31: RIANZ MD Chris Caddick told NewstalkZB that  they "can measure piracy levels and they have not gone down over the past 12 months... we have really been waiting for this, a first decision, to send a clear message, that there are consequences..." He says he is confident that this test case will result in a drop in piracy.

ADDED: See this US report on Kim Dotcom's recently launched Mega: File-sharing site Mega fields 150 copyright infringement warnings...

"Mega, which launched on Jan. 20, allows people to store 50GB of encrypted content for free. The content, which can be shared between users by sharing a link to it, can be decrypted if a user also shares the encryption key.

Mega was developed with an eye to avoid the copyright infringement allegations that plagued Megaupload, which was shuttered in January 2012. Since uploaded content is encrypted, Mega cannot determine the content of files stored. But it will remove content upon receiving a valid notification of copyright infringement."

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