New Zealand Copyright Tribunal

The New Zealand Copyright Tribunal is an independent body tasked with enforcing copyright infringement in New Zealand.

The Tribunal is made up of a Chairperson and five members appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Commerce. The Chairperson must be a barrister or solicitor of the High Court with at least seven years' experience. The current chairperson is Professor S Frankel.

First File-Sharing Case (2013)

The Tribunal issued its first judgement on 31 January 2013. It concerned an individual who had downloaded and later uploaded several songs that she had not paid for. The individual received a letter warning her that her actions were considered illegal and she responded, as she is encouraged to do by the system;

"When I received the letter warning me of the download and consequences and that it was illegal, I didn't challenge the letter as I took responsibility for my actions and realised I was in the wrong and took it as a warning and didn't do it again.

I would never intentionally do anything illegal and you can see this from my criminal record as it is clean. I didn't realise that it was illegal and I apologise sincerely for this mistake and have removed it from my computer.

In regards to the song 'tonight tonight' by Hot Chelle Rae being downloaded, can't claim responsibility for this as it wasn't done by myself or anyone in this household but if I find the person responsible for downloading this through my internet then I will definitely enforce the consequences behind doing so."

Regardless, she was fined. The Tribunal based its decision on its operational guidelines:

" The Tribunal must order an account holder to pay a rights owner a sum if the Tribunal is satisfied that:

[a] Each of the...alleged infringements that triggered the infringement notices amounted to an infringement of the right owner's copyright; [b] The infringements occurred at the IP address of the account holder; and [c] The three notices were issued in accordance with the Act"

The total fine amounted to NZ$616.57