Adams says US pushing Hollywood agendas overseas

Submissions on fee for illegal file sharing notices made public; RIANZ advocates filter

ICT Minister Amy Adams told an industry gathering yesterday that the US government is pushing "Hollywood" agendas overseas, while domestically the debate over the freedom of the internet rages.

Adams was speaking at an Institute of IT Professionals breakfast in Auckland yesterday, and alluded to copyright infringement issues in response to a question about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

She said she was reluctant to discuss the contents of the TPPA, but did say she found it interesting that the US is pushing "Hollywood" agendas overseas when the question of IP and the internet is still being debated at home.

"Even domestically they haven't quite figured it out themselves while they are out trying to negotiate," says Adams.

"They are often seen in this negotiation space as being firmly on the side of rights holders' agenda, but actually domestically they are still having this debate right now on the idea of the free internet."

Meanwhile submissions on the topic of whether content rights holders should pay ISPs an administrative fee (currently $25) every time they send an infringement notice have been released on line. This follows a request made by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act.

A submission by the Recording Industry Association NZ (RIANZ) and Independent Music NZ (IMNZ) says that from September 1, when the regime went live, to the end of April, 2766 infringement notices were sent out. The number was affected by the $25 fee for each notice. "Had the fee been set at $2 per notice as requested in our Regulations submission RIANZ would have sent 5000 notices per month. We believe this level of notices would have more fully realised the aim of the law".

RIANZ also suggests a filter be implemented that blocks access to peer to peer sites. "Communication with account holders receiving notices has shown a clear and urgent need for IPAPs (what ISPs are called in the Act) to provide a voluntary "opt-in" filter system for routers for customers wishing to have a greater degree of control over the usage of their internet connection. This opt-in system could potentially block access to P2P services."

In its submission the Telecommunications Carriers Forum claims that it costs an ISP $40 to administer the fee, and it "follows that no TCF member who has responded has been able to recover any of its implementation costs."

In its submission to the MED, Internet NZ says the $25 fee paid by copyright holders does not truly reflect the cost ISPs incur processing them.

It contends that if the notice fees do not better reflect the resources used to send them, costs will be passed onto non-infringing customers.

The New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZFACT), which is a de facto representative of the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) , says it has refrained from sending out infringement notices because of the cost. Last year it argued that the cost should be no more than "a matter of cents".

Internet NZ points out that only the largest ISPs have been sent infringement notices so far. The smaller ISPs do not have the information to determine what it would cost them to process a notice, so any fee adjustment will be made "independently of the input of a large number of [ISPs]."

The group recommends that the effectiveness of the copyright regime could be increased if New Zealanders had more access to timely and legal content online.

It encourages the MED to look at the number of legal alternatives for content when assessing the effectiveness of the copyright regime, adding that the introduction of music services and the likes of Quickflix is a welcome step towards the right direction.

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