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First offenders to face Copyright Tribunal

Published: 8:55PM Monday October 01, 2012 Source: ONE News

The first repeat offenders of the controversial three strikes copyright law are about to face a newly established tribunal.

The SkyNet law came into effect on September 1 last year amidst protests and dire predictions, but some in the telecommunications industry say it has had an effect on illegal downloading.

Telecom Users Association chief executive Paul Brislen said the company has been handed well over 1200 infringement notices in the first year, although not many had gone through to the Copyright Tribunal.

However, the rights holders can only deal with whoever is registered to pay the bills, Brislen said.

"If you're a small business and a customer users your wifi, you're liable for everyone using your internet connection.

Under the law you get three warnings for illegally downloading files, and after that you can be taken to the Copyright Tribunal where offenders face a maximum fine of $15,000.

Warning notice recipient Sarsha Thompson said she had been undeservingly stung by the law.

"I came home to find a piece of paper in my letterbox saying I had allegedly downloaded Fly by Nicki Minaj, which I hadn't. I don't like the song and my husband didn't do it either."

Flying Nun General Manager Ben Howe said some companies had cashed in on the copyright laws.

"I think the music industry has gone to some lengths to make legitimate music available, whether it's Spotify or iTunes."

The only warnings so far have been through illegally downloading music, and the first eight people are about to come before the Tribunal.