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New Zealand Reconsiders Three-Strikes Rule On Internet Use

Publication Date: 
March 26, 2009
The Wall Street Journal Digits Blog
Marisa Taylor

Lecturer in Law and Executive Director of the Fair Use Project Anthony Falzone is quoted in The Wall Street Journal Digits Blog in a story about a new law going into effect in New Zealand that would implement a "three strikes rule" on file-sharing. The rule says that the Internet Service Provider would cut off internet access to violators:

New Zealand isn’t the only country fielding questions about three-strikes laws. Last week, French Internet users protested similar legislation that is being debated by the French National Assembly, even though the European Union largely rejects the idea.

In Ireland, a three-strikes law was implemented after four major music companies sued Irish ISP Eircom, accusing it of facilitating copyright infringement.

Anthony Falzone, director of the Fair Use Project and a lecturer at Stanford Law School, says that free speech is being overlooked. “You’re talking about taking away what is one of the most important mediums of communication in the world,” he says. “We don’t put newspapers out of business because they defame people.”

Mr. Falzone thinks that a solution wouldn’t punish the users or get ISPs to “do the dirty work.” Instead, content owners should find a way to make money in the process of file-sharing that inevitably happens. He cites the recent agreement between MySpace and Viacom that allows users of the social-networking site to upload MTV videos, which are then tracked so that ad revenues can be more accurately gauged.

“Music has always been social, and people want to share it and discuss it,” he says. “They have to figure out a way to make money for the sharing that is going to happen with or without them.”