Our thoughts on the current Global VPN / Content Issue

TUANZ is a not-for-profit membership association which comprises over 150 members, predominantly large organisations with a strong dependency on telecommunications technology as well as small enterprises.   We also serve a representative group of SMEs and individual members. These small businesses and residential users are also the customers of our large corporate members, who are just as focused on the quality of their customers’ connectivity as their own.   We believe in the value of presenting professional and credible positions on issues that affect our members in line with our principles of encouraging digital uptake in our members businesses and homes through promoting fair and sustainable competition.

Recently four larger media organisations issued legal letters to a number of telecommunication retail service providers (RSPs) asking them to cease and desist in the use and marketing of the Global Mode DNS services.   They went further and demanded that the RSPs state that the use of these DNS services were illegal and should not have been used.  It is not TUANZ’s place to take sides in what is essentially a commercial and legal dispute between the companies, and we will always act impartially with the outcome for users in mind.

While we sympathise with the media organisations in that they believe they have purchased exclusive rights, we also believe that the legal case against Global Mode is unproven and until it is then no RSP should be required to switch off the service and thereby reduce competition for end-users.   If this means a case will be taken and decided in the courts then so be it, all parties will then have clarity around the current legal position.

We support the continued innovation by all New Zealand companies which provide users choice on how to consume content.  However the internet by its nature encourages the breakdown of traditional business models and geographic boundaries and so it is our view that the laws governing this need to be reviewed to ensure they work well for New Zealanders today and in the future.  These include copyright laws, as well as others such as tax laws to ensure that companies providing services in New Zealand are required to play by the same rules.  We would welcome a comprehensive review and would look to represent our members views at the relevant time.

Media Release: Rural Connectivity Symposium

TUANZ and RHAANZ are pleased to formally announce that their jointly hosted Rural Connectivity Symposium will take place in Wellington at the James Cook Hotel on Thursday 28th May 2015. “The aim of the day is to gather representatives of rural users as well as service providers to learn and discuss possible priorities around the recently announced Rural Broadband Initiative #2 (RBI2) and Mobile Blackspots funding by the Government” said Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ. “We have in the past taken leadership in pushing for improved rural connectivity and this a continuation of that work.”

Rural satellite service provider, Wireless Nation will be the premier sponsor for the one-day event which will be a mixture of presentations and workshops. Other sponsors announced today include SPARK New Zealand, TRACTA and the Rural Contractors New Zealand. Speakers on the day will include ANZ Economist, Con Williams, Chair of the New Zealand Telehealth Forum, Dr John Garrett, as well a number of speakers from Government and the telecommunications and health industries.

The CE of RHAANZ Michelle Thompson, reiterated that “Bringing together a large number of stakeholders to discuss the options around improved connectivity is a great opportunity for us to provide a strong unified response which reflects the voices of rural users of telecommunications services”

Tickets are limited and registration details can be found on the websites of the two organisations as follows: www.tuanz.org.nz/rural-symposium www.rhaanz.org.nz

ENDS

GUEST BLOG : Could it happen in NZ?

This guest blog is from a posting originally on the website of Lowndes Jordan, and authored by Rachael Cederwall and Rick Shera (TUANZ member). (Original post here)

"The Federal Court of Australia has decided that Australian ISPs must provide users’ details to Voltage Pictures, the owner of the copyright in the film Dallas Buyers Club.

Voltage identified 4,700 or so IP addresses at which it alleged the film was illegally shared using BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. However, an IP address of itself does not identify the user. That information is generally only held by the ISP who supplies connectivity to the user via an IP address that is within the ISP’s delegated range. ISP ranges are public information so that is how Voltage knew which ISPs to sue.

Voltage therefore sued those ISPs seeking a preliminary discovery order against them under rule 7.22 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 (Cth), to identify the 4,700 alleged infringers. The Court concluded that it was appropriate for Voltage to be given preliminary discovery of all the user names.

While such actions have become commonplace in the US, this decision creates a precedent in Australian law allowing rights holders who can trace alleged infringement to an IP address to use the preliminary discovery process to find out who is associated with that IP address. 

One of the big concerns is that this may lead to what is called “speculative invoicing” or “copyright trolling”, where the copyright owner sends letters to individual users threatening issue of proceedings and large damages, which it then says it is prepared to forgo if the user makes a payment (reported to be around US$5,000). Voltage is alleged to have engaged in these practices in the US so, despite the fact that neither Australia nor New Zealand yet have large statutory damages regimes, the Judge in this case has ordered that the letters Voltage proposes to send must be submitted for his approval first.

But, could this happen in New Zealand? Is there scope for a New Zealand court to make a similar order under New Zealand’s pre-trial discovery rules?

The answer is a fairly clear “Yes”. New Zealand High Court Rule 8.20 allows the Court to order a person (who need not be the intended defendant) to make a document available to an intending plaintiff where it appears to the Judge that the intending plaintiff cannot formulate a claim without reference to that document. In this scenario, the ISP would be the person against which the order would be made and the information held by the ISP which matches the IP address to its user would be a “document”.

It might be thought that there is no need for this in New Zealand given that we already have a means by which copyright owners can take action with respect to alleged infringement using peer-to-peer networks. That is the #3strikesNZ “Skynet” infringing file sharing regime, introduced a couple of years ago as new sections 122A-122U of the Copyright Act 1994. We’ve posted a detailed diagram of that regime previously. The reason why it has not been used nearly as much as was anticipated is that the copyright owners object to paying the $25 per notice fee (the same argument is taking place in Australia in the context of the proposed Communications Alliance code, but that is another story). That $25 cost pales into insignificance beside the cost of a pre-trial discovery application to Court, but, if the applicant considers it will get its money back and more, then maybe we will see a pre-trial discovery application like this in New Zealand. There is certainly nothing which forces a copyright owner to use the infringing file sharing regime as opposed to going to Court. Let’s therefore hope New Zealand ISPs and Courts are as alive to the dangers as their Australian counterparts."

TUANZ and RHAANZ welcome RBI2 announcements

16th March 2015

MEDIA RELEASE - TUANZ and RHAANZ

TUANZ and RHAANZ welcome RBI2 announcements

The announcements on the 12th March by the Hon Amy Adams, Minister for Communications in regards to the RBI2 and Mobile Blackspots programmes have been welcomed by the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand and the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand.  “We support the continued investment in rural infrastructure to ensure that this vitally important part of the New Zealand economy and society is not left behind” said Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ.

To ensure that the voices of rural users of telecommunications services are heard in the process, TUANZ and RHAANZ have entered into an agreement to collaborate on the issue of rural connectivity.  “Our organisation represents most of the rural stakeholder groups with our focus on health and we welcome the expertise that TUANZ can bring to our advocacy around the importance of connectivity for the improvement of rural health outcomes.” said Michelle Thompson, CE of RHAANZ.

As a first step, the two organisations are planning to host a Rural Connectivity Symposium in Wellington in late May.  The aim of this day will be to develop a joint submission to the RBI2 and Mobile Blackspot requests for information. Ms Thompson says “The ability to gather together a large number of rural stakeholders and to provide a response to the Government's request is a great opportunity for us to provide a strong unified response which reflects the voices of rural users of telecommunications services”