Monday, March 26, 2012

Copyright fee review

Last year New Zealand lawmakers amended the Copyright Act to introduce a three notice regime aimed at deterring file sharing that infringes copyright.

Rights owners send prescribed notices to Internet Protocol Address Providers (IPAPs), what I think of as traditional Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The IPAP is then required to validate the notice and send up to three infringement notices to the infringing account holder.

Under the current scheme an IPAP is allowed to charge a rights owner up to NZ$25 for processing a rights owner notice. The fee was originally set based on estimated costs from IPAPs. The fee was always going to be reviewed after the notice regime had been in force for six months.

Fee review

The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) has now issued a Fee Review discussion document. The MED is particularly seeking submissions from Internet Protocol Address Providers (IPAPs) and rights holders.

The closing date for submissions is 30 April 2012.

Industry reaction

I think we are going to see some diverse views on this topic.

Tony Eaton, head of the New Zealand branch of the Motion Picture Association (NZFact), will call for fees to be lowered or done away with altogether according to a recent article.

The MED is likely to receive many submissions from people other than IPAPs and rights holders.

InternetNZ chief executive Vikram Kumar for example sees no need for the fees to change. Another commentator, identified only as "Bob #42" states that "... [d]ownloading continues until we can get the content we want, when we want it".

MED clearly states that the scope of the review only includes the notice fee and its effect on the regime. MED does not intend to review the file sharing regime or associated regulations more generally.

Further steps

I think the review will provide interesting information about how the scheme is working generally. I guess that assumes that the primary submitters are rights owners and IPAPs. I hope the process is not derailed by Bob #42 and others like him.

Photo courtesy of author 401K under Creative Commons licence.

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