New Zealand’s ‘Three-Strikes’ Warning Program Is Simply Too Expensive


It’s a softer, gentler approach to anti-piracy: the warning letter.  Over the past few years, concepts like ‘Three Strikes’ and ‘Six Strikes’ have been initiated to simply warn users of illegal file-swapping, with little (if any) punitive repercussions for ISP subscribers.  The effectiveness of those programs has been debated, though at least one study has shown that threatening letters do curtail file-swapping activity, even after the first notice.

“…but we just can’t afford it.”

Enter New Zealand, which is now pulling back on its program, citing high costs.  “Every time we send a notice it costs us $25. We would love to do 1,000 of those a week, but we just can’t afford it,” Record Music NZ general counsel Kristin Bowman told Stuff.
“We definitely won’t give up though, because we constantly want to get the message out there that piracy is illegal.”

Those costs start to balloon if an action is taken.  The New Zealand letter-warning process allows labels to prosecute against a multiple infringer in the country’s Copyright Tribunal, but only after three notices have been ignored within a one-year period.  That costs $75 alone, with an additional $200 to initiate Tribunal action.

That makes the program incredibly difficult to scale, and ISPs are all-too-happy to watch this recede.  But why are access providers getting off the hook so easily?  Back in the US, a major court battle is simmering between Cox Communications and publishers Round Hill Music and BMG Music, both of whom allege that Cox stands in direct violation of DMCA, ‘safe harbor’ protections.  Cox has flatly refused to participate in a ‘Six Strikes’ letter-warning campaign, and has even refused to recognize letters notifying the ISP of illegal subscriber activity (more details on that case later).


Image by Christian Bjarnson, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 (CC by 2.0)

One Response

  1. Name2

    I don’t know if NZ has an equivalent of “common carrier”, but if taking an intrusive, editorial stance on their customers’ communiations causes them to lose the whole world, but gain a record company as a new BFF… ?

    Why ask why?


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