Copyright law supports failing business model - TUANZ head

The new "three strikes" law has been slammed by the head of the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand. File photo / Thinkstock
The new "three strikes" law has been slammed by the head of the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand. File photo / Thinkstock

The head of the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand has slammed the new "three strikes" law as an act which "serves only to support a business model that no longer works in the internet age".

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011, which requires internet companies to issue warning notices to customers suspected of illegally downloading copyright content at the request of those who own the rights to it, comes into effect today.

In a live chat with nzherald.co.nz readers, TUANZ chief executive Paul Brislen said the legislation is "poorly drafted and serves only to upset end users, alienate ISPs and will do very little to stop those offenders who are at the busy end of the spectrum".

"The problem isn't one of copyright infringement, it's one of access to material.

This act serves only to support a business model that no longer works in the internet age."

Mr Brislen said the solution to the illegal downloading of copyright material was simple - make it easier to obtain and people will pay for it.

"Services in the US like Netflix offer content online as the customer wants it for a low monthly fee (about $NZ20) and it's working extremely well. Roughly one third of all US internet traffic is now Netflix and it will hit 50 per cent by the end of the year. It's now bigger than Torrenting and customers love it."

He said the problem was not that people want the content free - it is that they want it now, but a lot of media is released overseas long before it is released in New Zealand.

"I'm a Doctor Who fan. I'm also online all the time, so I get spoilers from the marketing machine, from people who've already seen the show and so on. I watch it as soon as possible after it comes out in the UK. That makes me a criminal. I also watch it on TV when it screens here and I'll probably buy the DVDs as well, so there is no commercial loss for the rights holders.

"If the rights holders don't make the content available, how is it they're making a 'loss' every time someone watches a show online?"

Mr Brislen criticised the Government referring to "file sharing" as illegal, which he said showed "they haven't understood how the internet works, how email works, what file sharing actually is or pretty much anything else about this bill".

"Plus they've adopted it as a kind of shorthand rather than writing 'those scoundrels who want to watch television and are forced to download copies of TV shows off the internet because our broadcasters have bought the rights to the show and don't know what to do next'."

Mr Brislen was concerned internet providers, such as employers and free wifi providers, will block all file sharing software and torrent clients in a blanket ban.

"If that were technically possible it would interrupt all those legitimate uses of file sharing and that would probably include Skype which, I'm told, uses the same ports as Torrent files."

He said any organisation that offer internet access will be responsible for any downloading that goes on and believed some organisations will simply shut down their free wifi out of fear of being fined.

There are possible ways around the new law, such as changing ISPs after receiving the second warning, or using a proxy from overseas.

"Using a proxy from overseas, setting up a secure tunnel and connecting, isn't illegal and would move the problem of downloading copyright material from NZ to wherever you connect - so the US or UK for example," Mr Brislen told readers.

"The basic problem still exists - you're infringing on copyright material - but you've moved it from NZ's jurisdiction to another country's and made it potentially tougher to find you."

- HERALD ONLINE

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