Copyright law of New Zealand

The copyright law of New Zealand is covered by the Copyright Act 1994 and subsequent amendments.[1] It is administered by Business Law Policy Unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). In June 2017, a review of the existing legislation was announced.[2]

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

The Copyright Act 1994 provides owners of original work with a monopoly to control the use and dissemination of their work. The owner of the copyright in a work has the exclusive right to exploit the economic rights. A person infringes copyright in a work when he or she, other than pursuant to a copyright licence, does any of the following “restricted acts”, either in relation to the work as a whole or any “substantial part” of it: [3]

  • 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

Anyone who wants to use someone else’s work requires the permission of the right owner. The copyright owner can assign, transfer, and license the economic rights in the work.

Copyright works

Copyright automatically applies (no registration required) to original works in the following categories:[3]

  • 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 judgments and reports of Select Committees, Royal Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry, etc.

Copyright term

Copyright protection does not last forever. The duration of copyright protection depends on the type of work. The work will eventually enter the public domain. This means that once copyright has expired, everyone can freely use the work. Before such time permission of the right holder is required to use a copyrighted work. New Zealand's copyright term is largely consistent with other countries, and complies with the WIPO standard. The copyright term depends on the type of work in question. Here are some examples: [3]

  • Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works: 50 years from the death of the author
  • 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
  • Computer-generated work: 50 years after being made
  • Crown copyright: 100 years
  • Artistic works industrially applied: 16 years from when the work is applied
  • Artistic craftsmanship industrially applied: 25 years from when the work is applied

Exclusions and fair dealing

The Copyright Act allows for certain permitted acts to be exempted from copyright restrictions. These include:

  • fair dealing for the purpose of criticism, review, news reporting, research or private study
  • certain educational purposes
  • time shifting of TV programmes for viewing at a later time
  • format shifting of music
  • back up of computer programs
  • braille copies of literary or dramatic works

Moral rights

Besides protecting the economic rights of the author, copyright law also protects the moral rights of an author. Moral rights protect the author from distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work where that act would be or is prejudicial to the reputation of the author. Moral rights are inalienably attached to the author and cannot be transferred. Some moral rights can, however, be waived. Moral rights give the author for instance the right to:

  • be identified as the author (right of attribution)
  • object to derogatory treatment of the work (right of integrity)
  • not have work falsely attributed to them

New technologies amendments

In 2001,[4] the Ministry of Economic Development 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 (New Technologies) Amendment Act.[5] These changes were influenced by media corporations and aligned organisations (RIANZ, APRA, Artists Alliance, NZSA, AIPA, NZIPP, etc.), but opposed by New Zealand artists,[6] technology specialists,[7] ISPs,[8] businesses,[9] media commentators,[10] librarians[11] and members of the public.[12] The nature of the law changes attracted attention internationally.[13] 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 the United States.[14]

In February 2010, a Bill repealing section 92a of the Act was introduced to parliament, replacing it with a three notice regime for copyright infringement via file sharing.[15] The bill also provides for the Copyright Tribunal to hear complaints and award penalties of up to $15,000.[16] The notice regime took effect on 1 September 2011.[17]

In 2013, the Copyright Tribunal decided 17 cases pertaining to illegal file sharing. In all 17 cases, the applicant was the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) taking action on behalf of the copyright holders against individual Internet account holders.[18] None of the account holders were infringing on a commercial scale for profit. In most cases the infringement concerned the uploading of music using bitTorrent file-sharing protocols.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Copyright Act 1994". New Zealand Government. 1 December 2008.
  2. ^ "Review of the Copyright Act 1994 | Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment". Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  3. ^ a b c "Copyright Protection in New Zealand". MBIE. 18 February 2008.
  4. ^ "Digital Technology and the Copyright Act 1994: A Discussion Paper". MED. July 2001.
  5. ^ "Section 92a of the Copyright Act". New Zealand government.
  6. ^ "Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act assumes Guilt Upon Accusation". Creative Freedom NZ.
  7. ^ Wallace, Brenda (12 November 2008). "Say good bye to freedom on the internet - was nice while it lasted".
  8. ^ Keall, Chris (21 January 2009). "ISPs: New copyright law puts business in the gun; scrap it".
  9. ^ "Guilt Upon Accusation: New Zealand Businesses". Creative Freedom NZ. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011.
  10. ^ Jackson, Colin (7 October 2008). "Ministers: why we changed the Copyright Act".
  11. ^ "Now librarians come out against copyright law". Computerworld. 20 January 2009.
  12. ^ Pilcher, Pat (13 January 2009). "Is the new copyright law a lose-lose proposition?". New Zealand Herald.
  13. ^ Gibbs, Mark (20 February 2009). "New Zealand gets insane copyright law". ComputerWorld.
  14. ^ "Key: We still need a new internet copyright law". NZPA. 24 February 2009.
  15. ^ Power, Simon (23 February 2010). "Section 92A bill introduced to Parliament today".
  16. ^ "NZ Copyright Infringement Regime – Illegal File Sharing". LawDownUnder. 30 January 2013.
  17. ^ Walls, Alex (4 August 2011). "'Three strikes' file sharing law coming sooner than you think". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  18. ^ "Copyright - New Zealand Ministry of Justice".
  19. ^ "Copyright Infringement File Sharing". LawDownUnder. 28 December 2013.

External links

Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 is an Act of the Parliament of New Zealand which amends the Copyright Act 1994.

The law became known informally as "Skynet" after National MP Jonathan Young compared the Internet to Skynet, the artificial intelligence network from the Terminator franchise, in the parliamentary debates on the then bill.

Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008

The Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008 was an act passed by the New Zealand Parliament amending the Copyright Act 1994. It received Royal Assent on 11 April 2008.

Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is a New Zealand government agency responsible for the granting and registration of intellectual property rights, specifically patent, trade mark, design and plant variety rights. It is part of the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. According to its website, IPONZ "aims to ensure people realise the full economic potential of their intellectual property."

Ministry of Economic Development (New Zealand)

The Ministry of Economic Development (Māori: Manatū Ōhanga) was a New Zealand public sector organisation tasked with promoting development of New Zealand's economy. Known as the Ministry of Commerce until 2000, it was renamed in 2000 under the Fifth Labour Government, then replaced with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on 1 July 2012 by the subsequent National Government.The Ministry dealt with policy in a wide range of different areas including energy, communications, the radio spectrum, industry and regional development, intellectual property, consumer issues, tourism, international trade, and the regulatory environment.

At the time of its disestablishment, the Ministry supported eight ministerial portfolios: the Minister of Economic Development (Lead Minister for the Ministry of Economic Development), the Minister of Commerce, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, the Minister of Energy and Resources, the Minister of Regulatory Reform, the Minister for Small Business, and the Minister of Tourism, and previously provide support for the disestablished positions of Minister for Industry and Regional Development and Minister responsible for the Government Superannuation Fund, and to the Minister of Broadcasting and the Minister for Sport, Fitness and Leisure before support for these positions was provided by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

New Zealand Internet Blackout

The New Zealand Internet Blackout was an online protest spearheaded by the Creative Freedom Foundation NZ against changes to copyright law in New Zealand, most notably Section 92A of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act.

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