New Zealand's controversial anti-piracy policy is under renewed attack after The New Zealand Herald's reported that $NZD 250,000 ($USD 208,900) have already been spent by the country's music anti-piracy group, and the net result so far is one tribunal ruling that fined an user $NZD 616.57.
Under New Zealand's newly introduced copyright law, rights holder can issue a warning notice to suspected pirates by paying a $25 fee to ISPs. Rights holders then have the option to take the matter to the copyright tribunal after the third notice to the same user has been sent. According to the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ), 6,000 notices have been sent so far, but the group says it would send more if the $25 fee is reduced to $2.
This first "win" for RIANZ comes 16 month after the new law was introduced. An unnamed woman, who claimed in court that she had very little idea about BitTorrenting in general and was unaware that BitTorrent clients have an upload component too, had the unfortunate honour of being the first to be forced to pay damages under the new law.
She was only one of the 12 "caught" so far that has requested a hearing, with the others choosing to deal with the matter via written submissions. The tribunal fined her $NZD 616.57 for the upload of three songs, including the accidental upload of the same song twice due to her aforementioned unfamiliarity of the BitTorrent software.
RIANZ has defended the cost of going after casual downloaders, saying that most who receive a first notice stop pirating, making the system an effective deterrent in the long run. The group has previously claimed that piracy in New Zealand has halved since the introduction of the new law, although very little has been revealed about any positive financial impact in terms of increased sales as a result of the reduction in piracy. Critics have also questioned the piracy reduction claim, as downloaders can simply move onto other forms of downloading that cannot be easily monitored under the new system.