Sky TV has launched legal action in a bid to force internet service providers to block access to certain streaming and video download websites. As you'd expect, it hasn't gone down well with the industry.
The company plans to seek a High Court injunction that allows it to decide which sites are available to New Zealand web users. Sky says it is targeting illegal pirate sites and they are a threat to local entertainment industries and sporting codes.
At present Sky is aiming its actions against the four largest ISPs: Spark, Vodafone, Vocus Group and 2degrees. These companies account for over 90 percent of the market.
Sky's timing is curious considering the shift away from piracy thanks to legitimate paid online services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. These offer a wide range of streaming video at a fraction of the price of a Sky TV subscription, but do not include rights to popular sports coverage.
Vocus consumer general manager Taryn Hamilton says his company's stats show visits to The Pirate Bay - a popular file sharing site - is now at 23 percent of its 2013 peak. He says the idea of Sky blacklisting sites is dinosaur behaviour and something you might expect to see in North Korea.
Hamilton says Vocus will fight Sky in court. His company is not alone. Spark says it also aims to fight the injunction. InternetNZ says it is seeking legal advice. Vodafone, which has a close relationship with Sky, says it will comply with any court order. 2degrees has yet to commit.
Sky's move is likely to have lawyers rubbing their hands with glee. Litigation is likely to be expensive. One problem is there is no precedent in New Zealand for this kind of complaint, the Copyright Act stems from a time before video streaming was practical. Until now most service providers have walked away from pitched battles.
Kodi victory: Around the same time Sky sent letters to the ISPs, the company won an interim injunction against Fibre TV which sells the Kodi set top box. Fibre TV sells the set top box along with software designed to make piracy easy. The decision was made in the Christchurch District Court and Sky was awarded costs.