Cease and desist letters common for NZ ISPs

Legal threats from giant US media house Warner Brothers are causing a stir among Australian ISPs, but aren't that uncommon in New Zealand.

Legal threats from giant US media house Warner Brothers are causing a stir among Australian ISPs, but aren't that uncommon in New Zealand.

A number of Australian ISPs have received legal threats from Warner Brothers' legal firm about peer-to-peer file sharing that breaches the company's copyright.

A copy of the letter posted on Australian broadband community website Whirlpool, requests the ISPs immediately "disable access to the individual who has engaged in the conduct described above and ... terminate any and all accounts that this individual has through you".

ICONZ general manager Sean Weekes says the Auckland based ISP has received many similar letters from overseas companies.

"They're usually of a similar size and nature to Warners and it's usually about a customer who has a collection of music or movie files that they're serving to friends on an FTP server."

Weekes says the ISP abuse team will contact the user and point out that they're in breach of the law.

"Users will typically move the files to another URL so they've technically resolved the problem."

Weekes says they might go for another six months or more before getting another complaint about the activity.

"We haven't had a single user not act when we've contacted them - they've all complied."

Weekes says the ICONZ acceptable use policy (AUP) makes it clear that users aren't allowed to use the account to break the law and that ICONZ will act to shut down an account if they don't comply.

However, having a US company threaten a non-US company under US law does raise some issues, and Weekes says it's something that will need to be addressed.

"It's one of those areas of international law that needs to be looked at and possibly unified across the board."

He likens it to the defamation case in Australia where an Australian man is suing a US publisher in Australia (US website may face defamation lawsuit in Australia).

"If you're in another country with different jurisdiction or different legislation then it becomes very difficult to enforce or police such things. It's so hard to follow it through if it comes down to things like copyright or trademark in individual countries."

Calls to other New Zealand ISPs and specialist lawyers were not returned by IDGNet's deadline.

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