Rianz drops two 'Skynet' music copyright cases
The Recording Industry Association has dropped two of the first eight "Skynet" copyright cases, including one in which it reportedly sought $2669 from a Wellington student whose internet account was allegedly used to download five songs worth $11.75.
Downloading music illegally over file-sharing networks means those songs are also available for upload from the pirate's computer.
Wellington digital rights collective Tech Liberty said Rianz had estimated the $2.39 songs would probably each have been illegally uploaded about 90 times after they were downloaded to the woman's computer, when justifying its claim for $1075 in damages.
Tech Liberty spokesman Thomas Beagle said Rianz asked the Copyright Tribunal to impose an extra $1250 penalty as a "deterrent" and $375 for the recovery of fees.
That was even though the "distressed" woman was a flatter who appeared to have no knowledge that her shared Telecom internet account might have been used for piracy.
"She immediately cancelled the flat's internet account. Relationships in the flat broke down and the woman left the flat soon after."
Beagle said Rianz did not explain why it dropped the case, but it appeared the three infringement notices issued to the woman in the run-up to Rianz' decision to take the case the Copyright Tribunal did not comply with the law because of technicalities.
It was not clear if Rianz knew all the circumstances of the case before asking for the $2699 award.
Rianz managing director Chris Caddick was not available for comment.
A Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed two of the first eight cases Rianz had sought to take to the tribunal had been dropped.
He said the question of whether rights holders could claim for the "knock-on effects" of illegal file-sharing by claiming damages for subsequent uploads was a question that would need to be tested by the tribunal.
Beagle said he believed damages should be limited, at most, to the retail price of the products that were pirated by the offender.
While Tech Liberty had been providing assistance to the woman and was happy for her that the case had been dropped, it would have liked to have seen how the Copyright Tribunal would have treated the case, including the size of the claim, he said.
Telecommunications Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen said he had no sympathy for music piracy but claims from rights holders for damages needed to be "robust".
The remaining six internet users who face action have all asked for their cases to been judged on the paperwork.
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