After Getting Three Strikes Law, Rights Holders Demand More

Have you ever wondered what happens when rights holders actually gets a three strikes law? Well, the people of New Zealand are finding that out first-hand. It seems that rights holders are not happy that it actually costs them money to send out strike notices and are now demanding that the fee to send out strike notices be reduced from $NZ25 to just pennies.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Reduction of due process, flimsy evidence, and guilt upon accusation. These are just some of the flaws surrounding a three strikes law. You’d think that even when the laws are tipped so heavily in favor of rights holders, they’d be happy. Turns out, that is not the case. A report from ITNews says that rights holders are unhappy with the New Zealand three strikes law because it restricts their ability to send out huge volumes of strike notices to customers.

Currently, it costs rights holders $NZ25 to hand out a notice. The fee is suppose to cover administration costs. To my knowledge, connecting an accused IP address and a customer requires more than just a click of a mouse and a couple of key strokes. Naturally, it requires someone that knows what they are doing to sift through a mountain of content just to figure out who is responsible for a particular IP address on a large ISP. What are rights holders now demanding? Here’s more from ITNews:

NZ FACT said it had not sent out any infringement notices because of the fee, and called for the fee to be reduced to a few cents per notice.

RIANZ had sent out a total 2766 infringement noticed to ISPs between October last year and April 26, 2012, to be forwarded to customers allegedly downloading music from artists such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

Of the notices, 58 were challenged by those accused of infringement. Only two of the challenges were judged to be valid, however.

A reduced fee would allow RIANZ to send out 5000 infringement notices per month, it said.

While the report also details a dramatic reduction in alleged piracy in the first month the law went into effect, numbers since remained the same. Some users on Slashdot say that a number of users could simply be switching to less public forms of file-sharing or using VPN solutions to hide their tracks. So, a drop in numbers might not necessarily mean as big of a drop in file-sharing. I’d say that this is certainly a very plausible explanation. Yes, some will freak out and stop file-sharing, but others will keep on doing what they’ve always been doing either because they don’t follow copyright related news or they simply feel that the risk is still way too low to change their behavior.

The New Zealand three strikes law, according to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, was a law that was pushed, bought and paid for by the US. Questions were raised by the New Zealand Green Party as to why Hollywood was writing the laws of New Zealand. While the laws were passed last year, they weren’t passed without a fight. In 2009, numerous websites in New Zealand were blacked out in protest of the new laws (yes, it was a black out protest that predates the SOPA blackouts). It was a tremendous effort on the part of the citizens of New Zealand to fight the laws even if the laws were passed anyway. I don’t think anyone can take that away from the citizens of New Zealand. It was a valiant a very respectable effort.

Interestingly enough, I’d say there are a few similarities between this and what the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) demanded two months ago with regards to Google takedowns in the US. The RIAA, at the time, was upset that they couldn’t issue unlimited takedown notices to Google. The RIAA already has the DMCA, it can take down content whether they had a right to or not and they only came back demanding more.

Another point that one could make is that since rights holders are making such demands about a three strikes law in New Zealand, you almost wonder if the reason for the delays going on in the US surround a similar problem with respect to the 6 strike rule that was suppose to have started either at the beginning of this month or a few weeks ago. We don’t really know, but the administration cost on the part of ISPs has been a very traditional sticking point when it came to rights holders targeting an IP address. It costs money to track the necessary information down and rights holders are always wanting to find ways to get away with having to pay as little as possible. while speculation, it’s entirely probable.

Regardless, I think the object lesson here is that even if rights holders get a three strikes law or a six strike rule, they won’t be happy with that. They’ll demand more and more and will never be happy. If the entire Internet was ordered to be shut down tomorrow, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the industry came out some time later and said that it isn’t enough. I think the question then becomes, where do you draw the line? Where do we tell these major corporations that they aren’t getting any more? They’ve been given government intervention in the marketplace, they’ve managed to remove a few human rights along the way, and they are able to dictate how companies in entirely different industries are allowed to run their business. They have enough to stop sitting around and expecting everyone to work around a deprecated business model. Go out and actually sell something innovative instead of blaming everyone and everything else for your failings.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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