19 feb 2017
US movie studios accuse NZ internet users of flocking to piracy sites

  1. Hollywood studios painted New Zealand as a hotbed of internet piracy in a submission to a government review that they tried to keep secret.

    The Motion Picture Association (MPA) said in a confidential submission to a discussion document on "digital convergence" released by former Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams that nine international websites associated with piracy were far more popular in New Zealand than in the US or Britain.

    For example, it said file-sharing site KickassTorrents was the 29th most-popular internet site in New Zealand in October 2015, when it only ranked 100th in the US and 258th in Britain.

    The MPA represents Walt Disney, Paramount, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Bros.

    The popularity of pirate sites in New Zealand highlighted the need for the Government to take into account the severity of "digital theft issues", it said.

    InternetNZ chief executive Jordan Carter questioned the evidence presented by the MPA, which he said did not tally with what it was hearing about piracy trends.

    "The site-ranking tool they cite isn't a reasonable way to interpret flows of unlawful content and the comparison sites they choose aren't like for like," he said.

    "Piracy isn't a big problem in New Zealand and continued new offers of innovative streaming and other content offerings will keep things moving in the right direction," he said.

    The MPA's lobbying appeared unsuccessful as a Digital Convergence Bill released by Adams last year did not address piracy, but Carter questioned its tactic of lobbying behind closed doors.

    "These policy debates are best in the open where ideas and evidence can be tested and critiqued by all," he said.

    While the Culture and Heritage Ministry published almost all of the 48 submissions made to the Digital Convergence review on its website early last year, it withheld the MPA's submission at the request of the association.

    The ministry reconsidered that and supplied the submission with the agreement of the MPA a year after it had first received it, after Stuff indicated it would appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman for its release.

    The Ombudsman's Office has previously sided against the blanket withholding of submissions made by commercial entities to government agencies during public consultations.

    A fresh battle is looming on both sides of the Tasman this year over copyright reform and piracy, after Australia's Productivity Commission released a report before Christmas suggesting sweeping liberalisations to its copyright laws.

    It has proposed a new broad right for consumers to make "fair use" of copyright works.

    The commission has also recommended allowing Australian consumers to get around technological blocks that prevent them subscribing to overseas internet televisions services, and legalising the parallel importation of books.

    A scheduled review of New Zealand's Copyright Act was delayed last year because of the possible implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. But Hollywood interests are concerned New Zealand could follow in the footsteps set out by Australia's Productivity Commission.

    New York consultant Benenson Strategy Group interviewed Kiwi "influencers" who it believed might shape the upcoming debate about copyright in October.

    Benenson didn't reveal its client though the company has previously had close associations with studio HBO.

    One of Hollywood's concerns appears to be that a broad "fair-use" clause might make it easier for people to move copies of movies and other content they have legitimately bought to the cloud, making it more difficult for studios to identify and crack down on cases of outright piracy.

    TOP 10 MOST PIRATED TV SHOWS OF 2016

    Game of Thrones

    The Walking Dead

    Westworld

    The Flash

    Arrow

    The Big Bang Theory

    Vikings

    Lucifer

    Suits

    The Grand Tour

    TOP 10 MOST PIRATED MOVIES OF 2016

    Deadpool

    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    Captain America: Civil War

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    X-Men: Apocalypse

    Warcraft

    Independence Day: Resurgence

    Suicide Squad

    Finding Dory

    The Revenant

    TORRENTFREAK