Thursday, January 31, 2013

Copyright Tribunal takes Man Down

RihannaThe music industry has won its first copyright case under the New Zealand three strikes law. A Rihanna fan has been rapped over the knuckles for unlawfully downloading Man Down.

The Recording Industry of New Zealand (RIANZ) filed an application with the Copyright Tribunal after sending a Detection Notice, a Warning Notice and an Enforcement Notice to an individual internet account holder.

What is interesting about this decision is that we now have a sense of what sort of monetary penalties an unsuccessful Respondent will have to pay. In my earlier blog post A copyright tale of RIANZ and Rihanna I noted that the calculation of damages devised by RIANZ was never tested. Now it has been.

The Tribunal awarded RIANZ a total of NZ$616.57 in respect of three songs. This was calculated as follows:

  • $6.57 in lost sales of the music
  • $50 to reimburse RIANZ for cost of the notices
  • $200 to reimburse RIANZ for the tribunal fee
  • $360 as a deterrent

It is acknowledged that the song tracks were not only downloaded but were uploaded as well. RIANZ argued that the lost sales are not just what the account holder downloaded, but what she uploaded as well. However, RIANZ couldn't show how many downloads were made from the sound recordings she uploaded. So the Tribunal based its assessment on the price of the works on iTunes.

On the cost of notices, the Tribunal adopted a sliding scale. It based the amount on one-third of the Detection Notice fee ($8.33), two-thirds of the Warning Notice fee ($16.67) and the entire cost of the Enforcement Notice fee ($25).

The Tribunal calculated the deterrent amount as $120 per infringement, noting that the other sums it calculated were modest.

It is good to see that one of these cases has made it to the Copyright Tribunal. Now we have an idea of the sort of penalties an account holder will face for unlawful downloading of copyright works.

Photo courtesy of author Bob Xu under Creative Commons licence.

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