Sky fires broadside in war on piracy
Sky TV has asked local ISPs to block access to certain websites it claims are breaching copyright laws by offering customers access to content that Sky has the rights for.
Local telcos have been asked to block access and Sky has drawn up an application for a "site blocking injunction" which it will introduce to the High Court in Auckland.
This is a giant step forward in the war on piracy for the beleaguered broadcaster, and is unprecedented in the New Zealand copyright debate to date. InternetNZ's chief executive Jordan Carter describes the move as "an extreme step".
Taryn Hamilton, consumer manager of Vocus New Zealand, which owns the Slingshot and Orcon internet brands, is quoted in Stuff as saying Sky's demand was "something you would expect in North Korea, not in New Zealand".
In the New Zealand Herald, Hamilton says, "Sky, via its lawyers, requested that the TV company pick and choose the websites Kiwis can access via Spark, Vocus, Vodafone and 2Degrees networks."
"The request is in direct opposition to the idea that the internet is a free and open resource which should be accessed without censorship."
Hamilton suggests the sites in question, which are unnamed but likely to include The Pirate Bay and others, have been losing ground to paid TV services such as Netflix and Lightbox and that this move flies in the face of the internet being "a free and open resource which should be accessed without censorship."
Sky TV's proposed application says, "Sky has paid the films' copyright owners substantial amounts for the exclusive right to show the films in New Zealand on television, computers and other devices," and that it is simply asserting its rights in this field.
The ISPs named in Sky's document include the Vocus group (which includes Orcon, Slingshot, Switch, 2Talk and Flip) Vodafone, Spark and 2Degrees.
UPDATE: On Twitter the @odafonenz account says, "We are aware that SKY intends to seek a Court order under the Copyright Act that would require ISPs to block specified infringing sites. Vodafone would of course comply with any Court order."
UPDATE II: Consumer NZ has released a statement saying it is opposed to such activity.
"Consumer NZ's stance has always been against accessing illegal content; this includes sites allowing copyright-infringing peer-to-peer transfer. However, we see the blocking of websites as an ineffective way to curb piracy."
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