May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Bill (Rahui Katene)

5 min read

I am pleased to stand to take a call on this Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill which deals with the concept of file-sharing.Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill

I am pleased to stand to take a call on this Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill which deals with the concept of file-sharing.

Now in most cases, the Maori Party would advocate that the art of sharing is a practice we would endorse.

But in this case, sharing takes on a more negative meaning what is describe as unauthorised sharing which I guess in street talk might also be called pinching or theft.

File sharing is about the transfer of material (usually music, movies or software) via the Internet between two points, usually two internet users.

Sharing of copyright works often occurs without the authorisation of the copyright owner, which is illegal.

This Bill is to provide new enforcement measures against the unauthorised sharing of copyright material via the Internet

This Bill aims to
deter file sharing that infringes copyright;
Deter and educate the public about the problem;
Compensate copyright owners for damage sustained from file sharing by widening the jurisdiction of the Copyright Tribunal to award damages.
Provide sanctions for serious copyright infringers
limit Internet Service Provider liability that may result from account holders infringing file.

The Maori Party is happy to support this Bill throughout the remaining stages.

Our research tells us that the creative industries are being massacred by illegal sharing overseas. And the same trends are very clearly starting to emerge in New Zealand.

We also know that there are an estimated 4698 M?ori directly employed in creative industries which are most impacted by illegal file sharing. This does not include indirect employment such as lawyers, or accountants.

Take for instance local performing artists like Stan Walker, Maisey Rika or Bic Runga like most artists, they will be affected by illegal downloading and file sharing.

Illegal downloading and file sharing has resulted in a loss of income for the majority of local artists.

This has made it increasingly difficult for New Zealand artists to earn a living by making music in this country. This is despite the fact that excitement and interest in new local musical artists is higher than ever.

Because of illegal downloading and file sharing it means that record companies are generating less revenue, which in turn means that we have less resource to invest in new New Zealand artists.
In our consultation with various Maori involved in the industry, we were told it would be a huge drawback for copyright holders to chase up infringement because most copyright owners are people who work on their own with no infrastructure, no administrative support and no coffers full of money to pay for the work required in doing so.

We were also told that no industry can sustain itself on a free model nor can creators make a living if what they create is free.

The bill then goes a long way to deterring illegal file sharing.

And from even the limited and selective consultation process that we have been through we know that Maori artists absolutely support this bill as they believe it will have a positive impact on the ability of local artists to earn a living as musicians.

We note also the advice of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand known as RIANZ.

RIANZ represents sixty major and independent record companies, and more than 1100 New Zealand recording artists and producers and over 95% of commercially released recorded music in New Zealand.

They told the select committee that the direct impact that file sharing has on the record industry and its recording artists including local New Zealand labels and artists is substantial.

Sales figures for the New Zealand music industry including New Zealand and international artists show that for the period from 2001 to 2009, the total value of album and individual track audio sales dropped from $119 million to less than $70 million per year by 2009.

That seems a staggering reduction in sales which essentially is at the core of the problem being addressed by this bill.

There was also some heartening evidence during the select committee stage, that some basic interventions could make a significant difference.

Judge David Harvey shared the results of the Synovate Survey Young New Zealanders and Movie Downloading which found that more than 70% of respondents in New Zealand would cease infringing activities if they received a letter from their Internet Service Provider.

All it takes is a good old fashioned letter.

This finding has been corroborated by a similar survey in France in 2008 which found that 90% of users would stop illegal file sharing after two warnings from their Internet Service Provider.

There are some other relevant issues that we want to raise in the debate.

As we know, technology changes so rapidly that a bill such as this one could well be obsolete in a year or two as internet sharks find new platforms and channels that get around laws such as this one.

Vesting the entire internet copyright issue in regulation would ensure that the rules for such offences can be changed quickly to keep up with the changing online landscape.

Finally I want to just touch on the two major recommended changes by the Select Committee which are changes that we believe dont support the general intent of the bill.

We would suggest that suspension is not proportionate to the crime as most people would cease illegal downloading after the first or second notice and it takes a particularly belligerent person to ignore three warnings from an ISP (internet service provider).

The second change, in allowing lawyers into the Tribunal defeats the whole purpose of this bill because a situation will inevitably arise where everyone will lawyer up at the Tribunal hearings.

And all that will achieve is that it will exarcerbate the current problem that the cost of litigation exceeds the likely payout from taking someone to court.

We dont support these changes recommended by the Select Committee, however we are supportive of the Governments proposed Supplementary Order paper which largely appears to be about clarifying arrangements with the Copyright Tribunal.

We believe that it is a good thing that the SOP clarifies that the Copyright Tribunal shouldnt automatically presume that infringements of copyright have occurred by an account holder simply because of an infringement notice.

In other words, this is akin to the concept of innocent before the law until proven guilty so to speak.

More importantly the SOP helps to clarify the process and substance of a Tribunal proceeding as it applies to the above issue.

It also amends the Copyright Act 1994 by increasing the members who sit on the Tribunal from three to five.

One could question why the increase? We would hope this is to ensure the new member will have knowledge of tikanga Maori; be confident in the application of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and be well informed about the implications of WAI 262 the flora and fauna claim.

The Maori Party will support this Bill.

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