The Pirate Party (formed to defend people’s rights on the internet) hopes to take a stand against the copyright law programmed to be launched in September.
In order to send out infringement notices, copyright holders may have to pay $2, according to a discussion document issued by The Economic Development Ministry.
Tommy Fergusson – a 22 year old Auckland engineer and the president of Pirate Party – said that out of 500 needed members (in order to contest November’s party vote) 64 already signed only with the help of social networking – Facebook and Twitter – and “word of mouth”.
“We think we have got a good chance of being registered for the election.”
The 5% threshold consisted in getting a list party candidate elected, despite the “strength of feeling” on copyright reforms, he added.
“But if we can get acknowledged as having a certain level support, as the German Pirate Party and some others have, it might send enough of a message that other people might start taking an interest and acting on our concerns. It also means any submissions we make to select committees will have a greater weight.”
The party is one of 18 pirate parties affiliated to Pirate Parties International.
Sweden’s Pirate Party won two seats in elections to the European Parliament and 7.1% of the country’s popular vote back in 2009. However, in the general election that took place in the same year they dropped to 0.65%.
On the German side, Piraten won 43 council seats and took 2% in Germany’s federal election in 2009.”We want a law that is more in favour of consumers, but we wouldn’t abolish copyright”, Fergusson said.
Starting with September, thanks to the Amendments found in the Copyright Act, users may be fined up to $15.000 by the Copyright Tribunal for copyright infringement material(s) such as pirated music and videos. Moreover, if an internet address is identified, right holders can make ISPs send out infringement notices to their customers and supply their details to the tribunal after a third warning.
Tony Eaton, chief executive of the New Zealand branch of the Motion Picture Association, NZFact, said the fees right holders would have to pay to ISPs in order to do their bidding would be critical in determining the extent to which they used the new enforcement regime. ISPs’ opinion is that rights holders should pay between $14 and $56 per notice.
The ministry does not support this, saying that the charges should be applied only for the ongoing costs they incurred sending out notices.
“The range of notice fee estimates would be between $2 and $28”, he said.
Also, the ministry is debating whether there should be a linear fee for these notices or if ISPs should charge less for the initial detection notices first sent to illegal sharers and more for subsequent “warning” and “enforcement” notices.
President Charlie Boyd (Internet Service Providers Association) replies:
“There are real costs. It is not like we are trying to make a buck out of this. You have got to build systems and processes and employ people to monitor what is happening here. We are not having a laugh, it is real cost and if you are a small provider you have got the same costs as the big guys.”
Of course the big issue is that of the money – namely, how it should be calculated the amount owed to the copyright holders; the ministry has a rather extravagant (to say the least) view on the matter – in their opinion, the amount would be the total from: compensation for the rights owner for their loss of revenue, the reimbursement of the fees they spent with infringement notices, the costs derived from filling the lawsuit, and, additionally, an amount that would act as a “deterrent” and would be dictated by the “flagrancy of the infringement”.
“While flagrancy is partly determined on whether the infringer was aware they were infringing, the tribunal would also be able to consider … if the infringer was deliberately sharing a large number of works [and] whether the work was uploaded or downloaded.”