ISPs can charge $25 to process copyright infringement notices

UPDATED 5pm: InternetNZ says fee level a good compromise

Internet Service providers will be able to charge rights holders up to $25 for processing an allegation of copyright infringement, commerce minister Simon Power has announced.

Power says Cabinet decided on the $25 fee when considering the regulations that will underpin the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011, which comes into effect on 1 September.

Power had originally suggested the fee be $20.

"The Government decided that a fee of up to $25 was an appropriate compromise between what rights holders and ISPs wanted," Power says in a statement.

The fee will be reviewed in six months after the Act comes into effect to make sure it's at the right level, Powers says.

The regulations will also prescribe:

  • The information that rights holders need to provide to ISPs in order to trigger the infringement notice process.
  • The form and content of infringement notices sent to internet account holders by their ISP, including a requirement that notices must include information on the operation of the Act and general copyright information.
  • The method by which the Copyright Tribunal determines the amount of an award (up to $15,000) for copyright infringement arising from file sharing.
  • That the application fee to take a claim to the Copyright Tribunal is $200.

The Cabinet paper on the regulations can be found here.

UPDATE: 5.30pm

InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar says the fees set are clearly a “halfway house” between the cost of up to $56 that the ISPs saw in processing of notices and the minimal fees as low as $2 per notice that the rights holders wanted. It should prevent an unmanageable flood of notices, he says.

The Cabinet paper reveals government’s estimate of 500 “three-strikes” cases per year likely to go before the Copyright Tribunal. This is the first time this figure has been disclosed and it is an interesting contrast, Kumar says, to the 5000 infringement notices per month per ISP on which the ISPs were asked to base their costing. It suggests a large drop-off is expected between alleged offenders served one or two notices and cases where enough evidence is amassed and the case considered important enough to merit a Tribunal hearing.

Cabinet’s decision to review the fees after six months “due to uncertainty surrounding notice volumes”, is a “good outcome”, in line with InternetNZ’s submission on the regulations, Kumar says; by that time a firmer picture of notice levels and the appropriateness of the fees should have emerged.

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