By Drew Wilson
New Zealand is one of the very few countries in the world to actually put in place a three strikes law. Next month, the law will be put to the test as hearings are set to take place against 11 alleged repeat copyright infringers. While there was originally going to be 17, 6 of these users will not have their case heard in the tribunal.
While the United States is still in the process of trying to implement a so-called “6 strike policy”, some Americans might be grateful that they don’t live in New Zealand where there is a “3 strike law” which not only has disconnection as a consequence, but thousands of dollars in fines as well. There’s been a lot of controversy over the “3 strikes law”. Some of the criticism was directed at the fact that strikes are issued on mere allegations – not proof verified in a court of law. The fact that a mere IP address is used as evidence was also the subject of criticism given that it doesn’t take into account things like WiFi hacking.
A report from Stuff, says that the Recording Industry Association (RIANZ) was the organization behind the issuing of thousands of strike notices including the eleven that will soon be heard. RIANZ is the New Zealand arm of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Here’s more from the report:
The tribunal can make awards of up to $15,000 against pirates, and Rianz had sought awards of several thousand dollars in at least two of the dropped cases.
In one, Rianz sought about $2700 from a Wellington student whose internet account was allegedly used without her knowledge to download five songs valued at $11.75. That case also seemed destined for a formal hearing.
The New Zealand three strikes law can be traced back to 2008 when Internet activists raised alarm bells over Section 92A of a proposed law at the time. These activists called on many websites partake in an Internet blackout to protest the new law saying that it would, among other things, institute a regime of censorship on the Internet for the people of New Zealand.
While the controversial law was ultimately passed, the controversy over it never completely subsided. In fact, as part of the Wikileaks diplomatic cables leak (or “Cablegate”), new evidence that the law was merely pushed and paid for by the United States in 2011 reignited a storm of controversy where some opposition politicians found themselves asking the governing party why Hollywood was writing their laws.
While there is still a cloud of controversy over the laws, it seems that the tribunals will go ahead anyway. We’ll be watching to see what develops in these tribunals.
Freezenet welcomes all Slashdot readers. We hope you enjoy your stay!
Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85