New Zealand Lawmakers Pass Strict Anti-Piracy Law
-- New Zealand lawmakers have passed legislation that outlaws file sharing and threatens repeat offenders with disconnection of Internet service up to six months. The new law will go into effect Sept. 1 and will apply to mobile networks in Oct. 2013.

As is the case in other countries with similar laws, New Zealand citizens will be punished by an intermediary -- a Copyright Tribunal, in this case. The tribunal will take hearings if one is requested.

But there are some differences between the approaches. New Zealand will penalize the individual with fines up to US $12,000 paid to the copyright holders. And the citizens accused of infringement will not be able to bring lawyers to tribunal hearings unless the tribunal grants permission. Those accused are to send a challenge letter to the Internet provider that issued the infringement notice within 14 days of its receipt.

Bloomberg notes that an infringement notice sent by an Internet provider "will allow the tribunal to presume that illegal file sharing occurred unless the account holder provides evidence or reasons why it shouldn't be considered so, according to the law."

Only the Green Party and two independent lawmakers voted against the bill. "We believe account suspension is a bad precedent, is disproportionate to the problem and will not solve the problem," a Green Party blog post reads. "We support Kiwi copyright holders and think the use of fines rather than Internet suspension is a more appropriate and proportionate sanction for file sharing."
(AFP, Bloomberg)

Google Releases Copyright Guide for YouTube Violators
-- Speaking of copyright infringement, Google has rolled out a new copyright tutorial for YouTube users who have violated the site's copyright policies. It's like an online traffic school that can be completed in a tight four minutes, 39 seconds (plus a few more seconds to answer four multiple choice questions). Just as traffic school reduces points on a person's driving record, Google will remove copyright strikes for people who go through this "copyright school."

"We want to help our users operate within the law and within our guidelines. Requiring that people complete copyright school after receiving a copyright notification means they'll understand why their actions were wrong, come away with a better understanding of the law and be more likely to comply with YouTube's guidelines in future," a YouTube representative told Politico.

This copyright tutorial comes amidst heavy fire aimed at Google over copyright violations. Last week, Google general counsel Kent Walker was grilled by a House Judiciary Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee, about the company's inability to improve the way its search results link to pirated and counterfeit goods.

"To suggest it's too difficult for Google to accomplish … it seems to me it's a lack of will," one representative said. Days earlier, Google removed from its Android Market the app for the music service Grooveshark. Sources have told Billboard the app's removal came after pressure by record labels.

Twitter Suffering From Lack of Engineering, Vision?
-- Twitter may be suffering from a stall in engineering and vision similar to the way its comScore traffic has stalled this year. Average time spent on per month was down to 12:37 in March 2011 from 14:06 in March 2010, although that does not account for the many ways people access Twitter (mobile apps, third party apps).

Its investors may have a different problem: the company turned down offers of as much as $10 billion from Google, according to a report at Fortune. That's a good exit for a company that pulled in $45 million in advertising revenue in 2010, according to eMarketer.

Poll: 82% of TuneCore Clients Believe Streaming Will Overtake Downloading
-- The results for the latest poll reveal that most TuneCore clients (and readers of its blog) believe streaming will overtake downloading (in volume, although maybe not in value). The online surveys of digital distributor TuneCore are usually a good peek into the mind of the independent musician, and this one is no different.

Here's the breakdown of the answers to the question. "Do you think consumers will stream more music than they download?" 52.9% answered "Yes;" 19.3% answered "No;" 18% answered "Yes, but not within the next year;" and 9.7% answered "Yes, but not within the next five years."

A total of 82% of respondents indicated they believe consumers will stream more music than they download. But they differ on when streaming will overtake downloading. Just under 10% of respondents believe streaming won't overtake downloading for more than five years. Roughly 18% see the switchover coming from one to five years down the line. And surprisingly, about 53% of respondents think streaming will overtake downloading within the next year (or maybe they didn't understand the answered they could chose from).

One thing the survey doesn't clear up is whether these people believe the value of streams will soon surpass the value of downloads. It's not hard to imagine people streaming more songs than they download -- YouTube's billions of streams is evidence of that. But downloads are currently far more valuable than streams, even though more people stream music than pay for downloads.

A single download, especially for a TuneCore customer who owns the rights to the recording and composition, is worth hundreds of streams. And as I noted the other day, a new Nielsen report shows that 57% of the global online audience has streamed music in the last three months while just 17% of them have purchased music during that time. So while people may stream more often than they pay for downloads, low-value streams don't equal the value of downloads. Not yet, at least.