The volume of internet traffic coming into New Zealand has dropped sharply since new anti-piracy rules came into force, says an industry insider.
An employee from one of the country's largest internet companies, who did not want to be named, said the demand for international traffic had fallen after the Government's copyright law came into effect last Thursday.
The "three strikes" law requires internet companies to issue warning notices to customers suspected of illegally downloading copyright content - such as movies or music - if a rights holder requests it. After a third notice, rights holders can bring a case before the Copyright Tribunal, which can fine an offender up to $15,000.
Although some internet providers (ISPs) were concerned they would be flooded with warning notices, Telecom and Orcon said yesterday that they had not had any arrive.
However, Orcon chief executive Scott Bartlett said he had already seen a change in traffic volume.
"We've definitely seen an impact ... but we're only a few days in so I don't know if it's a trend."
The amount of international peer-to-peer traffic travelling over Orcon's network had dropped by around 10 per cent, he said. Peer-to-peer is software which forms a connection between a number of computers and lets users search for and download files stored on each of the systems that are part of the network.
The software is a popular way for web pirates to illegally share copyrighted material, although it has a large number of legitimate uses.
Bartlett said peer-to-peer traffic is the second biggest segment of data Orcon dealt with, behind streaming video from websites like YouTube.
When Parliament passed the laws in April, international copyright expert Rene Summer warned the new rules could slow consumer demand on the Government's ultra-fast broadband network.
"We have done three global studies [over the last four years]. The bottom line of it is that media regulation and copyright impact the prospect of take-up on new ultra-fast broadband services," Summer said.
Despite this, internetNZ's chief executive Vikram Kumar believed any drop in traffic volume would be temporary.
"People will be slowly getting their head around what is possible and what isn't possible [under the law]."
However, he said a number of internet users were saying the law meant they no longer had any use for large monthly data caps.