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The Copyright law of New Zealand is covered by the Copyright Act 1994 and subsequent amendments. It is administered by Intellectual Property Officemarker of the Ministry of Economic Developmentmarker (MED).

New Zealand is party to several international copyright agreements, including the TRIPS Agreement 1994, the Berne Convention 1928 and the Universal Copyright Convention 1952.

Scope of Copyright

Copyright law grants the owner of the copyright exclusive rights to certain restricted acts, which include the following.
  • copying the work
  • publishing, issuing or selling copies to the public
  • performing, playing or showing the work in public
  • broadcasting the work
  • making any work derived or adapted from the copyright work.

Copyright Works

Copyright automatically applies (no registration required) to original works in the following categories.
  • Literary works (novels, poems, song lyrics, computer programmes, compilations of data)
  • Dramatic works (scripts for films or plays)
  • Artistic works (paintings, plans, maps, photographs, sculptures, models, buildings)
  • Musical works (scores and arrangements)
  • Sound recordings (of musical, literary or dramatic works)
  • Films
  • Broadcasts (radio, TV, cable)
  • Typographical arrangement of published editions (this exists independent of copyright in the published work, if any).

Copyright does not apply to certain government works, such as Acts of Parliament, Regulations, Parliamentary debates, Court judgements and reports of Select Committees, Royal Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry, etc.

Copyright Term

The copyright term is largely consistent with other countries, and varies with category of the work.
  • Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; 50 years from the death of the author
  • Aristic works industrially applied; 16 years from when the work is applied
  • Artistic craftsmanship industrially applied; 25 years from when the work is applied
  • Sound recordings and films; 50 years from when it is available to the public
  • Broadcasts and cable; 50 years from broadcast
  • Typographical arrangements; 25 years from first publishing.

Exclusions and Fair Use

The Act allows for certain permitted acts to be exempted from copyright restrictions.
  • Fair dealing; for purpose of criticism, review, news reporting, research, private study.
  • certain educational purposes
  • time shifting of TV programmes for viewing at a later time
  • format shifting of music
  • back up of computer programmes
  • making copies in Braille.

Moral Rights

The copyright act also provides moral rights for the author. These attach to the author, and are not transferred by contract as economic rights can be. Moral rights give the author the right;
  • to be identified as the author (right of attribution)
  • to object to derogatory treatment of the work (right of integrity)
  • to not have work falsely attributed to them.

New Technologies Amendments

In 2001, the MED initiated a major review of copyright law, in light of new technologies, such as media in digital form and communications via the internet.

Law changes were enacted in 2008, most notably the Copyright Amendment Act . These changes are considered to be heavily influenced by media corporations (such as RIANZ and APRA), but are opposed by New Zealand artists, technology specialists, ISPs, businesses, media commentators, librarians and members of the public. The nature of the law changes has attracted attention internationally.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, stated that the stronger copyright laws, including the controversial section 92a, were required for New Zealand to be able to negotiate a free trade agreement with America.

See also


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