The local body representing big record labels claims to have spent around $250,000 chasing alleged music pirates but so far has hauled only 12 people to the Copyright Tribunal.

The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (Rianz) scored a win at the tribunal this week, with a Telecom customer who pirated music being ordered to pay it $616.57.

The decision was the first released by the tribunal since the introduction of file-sharing laws in September 2011 that allows rights holders - like movie studios or music companies - to issue notices to users believed to be illegally downloading or uploading copyrighted content.

After a third notice, rights holders can bring a case before the tribunal, which can order an offender to pay up to $15,000.


Rianz says it has sent out around 6000 notices to alleged pirates, for which the music industry body must pay a $25 fee each for internet companies to send on to their customers.

Of the 11 people whose case has been to the tribunal, only one has opted to have a hearing, with the rest content to have the proceedings dealt with by written submissions. Rianz said this week it believed the majority of people who receive a notice stop infringing.

Rianz said the fee should be dropped to $2-a-notice but this was rejected by the Government.

If set at $2 Rianz said it would have sent 5000 notices a month.

"We believe this level of notices would have more fully realised the aim of the law."