Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Another file-sharing prosecution fails

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Yet another failed file-sharing prosecution by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand illustrates the importance of challenging the Government's newly introduced copyright regime, an internet watchdog says.

The association (Rianz) brought a case to the Copyright Tribunal seeking $4675 from a person for allegedly file-sharing 11 songs.

A Rianz spokesman today confirmed the case had been dropped because the person had not received any of the infringement notices sent to them by their internet service provider, Slingshot.

The spokesman said as many as 18 cases had been filed to the tribunal since the The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act was introduced last year.

In Rianz's submission to the tribunal, it said all the songs - one from pop diva Rihanna and 10 from indie band Fun - were legally available for purchase from iTunes at $2.39 per track, however: "The act of uploading ... is more harmful as it enables multiple potential unauthorised downloads by third parties, each of which could have been paid for by those third parties at a cost of $2.39 each," it said.

"The difficultly in applying this method in this case is that it is not known how many downloads were made from the sound recordings uploaded by the account holder."

Rianz ultimately sought $1175 for the 11 songs, as well as $3500 compensation. The maximum sum allowed by the Act is $15,000.

InternetNZ policy leader Susan Chalmers said the case showed the importance of challenging these cases in order to "test the contours" of the new file-sharing regime.

"It's part of their right to do so and this tribunal changes the typical due process arrangements that we see in other copyright infringement cases so it is really important for people to challenge these cases of infringement."

Ms Chalmers felt Rianz was seeking such a high sum in order to deter other file-sharers.

"I'm not sure when the recording industry will just wake up," she said. "The law itself I've always felt was never going to achieve that which it set out to achieve. It just doesn't work."

It is the second prosecution brought by Rianz under the act to have been dropped.

In October it withdrew a case against a student who was the account holder for her flat's shared account.

According to the law collective which represented her, Tech Liberty NZ, she had never used file sharing software.

Rianz had claimed a total of $2669 in penalties before withdrawing the charge.

- APNZ

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