A symbolic smashing of pirated movie and music CDs in Auckland today heralded a new era in the fight against copyright thieves.
The music and movie industries said pirated copies of movies and music were costing money and jobs and they were joining forces to convince people downloading or buying pirated music or movies was theft which could result in prosecution.
The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) and the New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft, (NZFACT) symbolically smashed pirated copies of movies and music today before they signed an agreement to work together to gather intelligence on copyright pirates and bring them to court.
Mark McCall from RIANZ, said copyright thieves could be jailed for up to five years and be fined up to $150,000.
"We will be looking at trying to educate the public about copyright and why it is stealing people's creative work and why it is so important for businesses. There are lots of employees out there who are hurt when the money goes to the criminals."
He said it was difficult to say how much it was costing the industries.
Movie patrons are facing increased security measures such as bag checks and temporary confiscation of their mobile phones as distributors fight back against illegal recording of new hit films.
Cinemas across the country have become more vigilant in the wake of the discovery of a bootlegged DVD of Sione's Wedding - currently New Zealand's No 1 film.
The film's producer, John Barnett, said the illegal recording, based on an early version of the film, had probably cost distributors $500,000. Future authorised DVD sales would also suffer. "It's been quite devastating really," he said.
Mr McCall said many people were not worried they were breaching copyright when they copied movies or music.
He said people needed to realise the full impact of breaching copyright laws by pirating music and movies. That included theatres and small production houses going out of business.
Many people knew it was illegal but believed it was not doing anyone any harm, he said.
"It is a serious issue," he said.
- NZPA, HERALD ON SUNDAY