Jail Time for NZ Copyright Infringement

Copyright Advocacy

The sun goes down on New Zealand karaoke business owner Desmond Adams, convicted and jailed for onselling music files that breach New Zealand copyright.

As the owner of 1st Choice Karaoke in Rotorua, Mr Adams provided karaoke as well as DJ equipment throughout New Zealand. He also operated two websites with international sales reported to more than 50 clients.

Mr Adams appeared in the Rotorua District Court in February 2013 and pleaded to making for sale an object that was an infringing copy of a copyright work, a charge under the Copyright Act 1994. He was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay $784.

This jail term for karaoke infringement under the Act is reported as a first for New Zealand says copyright owner Leanne Willis from Auckland-based company Sundown Karaoke.

Sundown Karaoke has been creating karaoke recordings from scratch for 11 years. These recordings are then burnt to disc and sold to local and international clients for not much more than the cost of an iTunes song. Sundown Karaoke then pays the appropriate royalties.

In handing down her decision, Judge Jocelyn Munro said there had been few convictions of this type under the Copyright Act and said there had to be serious consequences for those that breached commercial copyright in order to deter others.

‘This is all too common and all too easy in this internet age,’ she said. ‘For many in recording and entertainment their livelihoods depend on what they produce.’

She said when people used others’ recordings without paying it put people out of business and had a huge impact on the whole industry.