Last year, the New Zealand government passed ’3-strike’ legislation which was designed to have alleged copyright infringers disconnected from the Internet. In February a code of practice was drafted by the music industry and ISPs which attempted to lay out how the ISPs would go about disconnecting people.
Considering that the legislation received almost universal opposition from anyone not in the music business, it came as no surprise that the parties involved couldn’t come to an agreement. Prime Minister John Key announced that the law would be delayed while a solution is found, noting that they may have to change the law in order to reach one.
But according to Campbell Smith, CEO of RIANZ (New Zealand’s answer to the RIAA) everyone complaining about the legislation is wrong and the music industry is right. Writing in The New Zealand Herald, Smith says that despite the ‘fact’ that the industry has “transformed its business models”, unlicensed music on the Internet is proving a disincentive to those looking to sell music online.
Smith says that the music industry has been working hard to find “proportionate and reasonable solutions” to tackle illicit file-sharing. Noting that in some countries labels take legal action against those uploading music, Smith says that Section 92A “is a better solution for everyone,” although don’t be surprised if that “everyone” is limited to those in the music industry.
Smith says that after looking long and hard for a solution to the ‘problem’, the industry realized that ISPs are in a “unique position to help us protect creative content online,” and feels that it’s the government’s responsibility to force these negotiations on the ISPs, despite the fact that the ISPs aren’t happy about it at all. Seems everyone has a responsibility to the music industry – like it or not.
Turning to what he describes as “sensational propaganda” surrounding Section 92A in the press recently, Smith says that if the law was half as bad as is being reported, he would vote against it himself. Now that would be a sensation.
Going on to the tracking mechanics, he explained that the process of catching an infringer is simple. The labels will log on to public file-sharing ‘sites’ and log the IP addresses of people uploading large amounts of copyright infringing material and report them to their ISP. Further details of how the entire system would operate can be found here.
From a BitTorrent perspective, it will not be as easy to track people sharing vast amounts of music as it is with applications such as LimeWire, since there is no ‘shared folder’. It’s doubtful that the labels will be as selective as they are suggesting, though. Many of the infringement notices being sent out in the UK right now are for just one track and if the labels are pinning all of their hopes on this new system, expect there to be lots and lots of them in New Zealand too.
Smith says that consumers need to be reassured that what is being done is “efficient and proportionate” but it’s difficult to see why any ‘consumer’ should appreciate the fact that privately owned businesses should have a veto over their continued Internet access, or feel that such action is “proportionate”.
Content creators do have the right to protect their work, as much is written in law, but threats and disconnections aren’t going to work. Not only are the public annoyed at the actions of the music industry, but ISPs are being dragged into this ‘war’ too. Expect things to get even more messy.