Kiwi Three Strikes Tribunal Fines Soldier Who Was Serving In Afghanistan When Infringement Happened

from the manifestly-unjust dept

G Thompson was the first of a few of you to send in this story about the latest "three strikes" Tribunal hearing in New Zealand, in which the Tribunal ruled against a guy, despite the fact that he was a soldier in the NZ Armed Forces and deployed in Afghanistan at the time the various accusations of infringement occurred. Upon getting the third strike, having just returned from his tour of duty, he sent the tribunal a letter, noting that it was impossible for him to determine who had actually infringed, as he was away fighting for the country and there had been a number of flatmates in the place during the time of the accusations, such that it could have been any one (or multiple ones) of them downloading infringing material. Still, he agreed to "accept responsibility" because it was his account. That's an honorable thing to do, though it's simply ridiculous that he should have to do that, since he is clearly not at fault.
I have just returned from deployment overseas [in] Afghanistan and was not aware of music being downloaded. It is very difficult to determine who in the household is responsible for downloading music as flatmates are currently deployed around NZ.

However I understand entirely that I am the person who is held liable for these actions. I have spoken to the pers [sic] who have access to my internet IP address, and between 8 pers, we cannot determine who is fully responsible.

I ask that this notice be a lesson to those in my household as they now understand how severe the consequences may be for committing such an act. I do not wish this situation to grow any more than it needs to be. I am currently going through transitioning from military life in Afghanistan to life back home in NZ, and I'm not fit to tackle this allegation made against me.

However, I take full responsibility for the acts committed under my IP address and wish for this to be resolved asap. I am willing to co-operate by any means required of me.
And yet... the Tribunal still made him pay $255.97, despite not doing anything. The breakdown was $200 to reimburse the RIANZ for the application against him, $50 in fees, and another $5.97 for the "price" of the 3 songs on iTunes. Of course, since he wasn't the one who downloaded the songs in the first place, it seems ridiculous that he should have to pay for those songs, let alone the various other fees.

As Rick Shera points out in the link above, the Tribunal even acknowledged that it could override the automatic fine by claiming such a ruling would be "manifestly unjust," but bizarrely chose not to. Shera questions under what circumstances the Tribunal would ever use that ability if it didn't use it in this case:
So, it was open to the Tribunal to decide in these circumstances - soldier overseas, no way of knowing who infringed and therefore no ability to recover any award, admitted responsibility - that to make an award was manifestly unjust. Remember that it is unjustness to the account holder (the soldier in this instance) that is relevant not any unjustness to or cost incurred by the copyright owner. Difficult for the Tribunal though without any argument on the point being presented by the Respondent.

I have said before that trying to show manifest unjustness will be extremely hard, especially given the presumption of guilt in section 122N and the fact that an account holder is liable for all actions taken using its account. I think this case underlines that. I find it hard now to imagine any circumstance that will invoke this protection for an account holder.

Filed Under: afghanistan, copyright, liability, new zealand, three strikes, tribunal
Companies: rianz

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2013 @ 10:31am

    Trying to be honorable with dishonest people is a waste of honor.

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