Copyright Act Review

A review of the Copyright Act has been commenced by the New Zealand Government. The review has been long-signalled by the Government, and long-awaited in some quarters. It is the first major review of substantive provisions of the Act since the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008, which addressed some aspects of the relationship between copyright and the internet, including illegal file sharing.

The review follows a Copyright and the Creative Sector study and report conducted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in 2015-2016. That report sought to inform Government about how copyright does or does not work for creative sector industry stakeholders, and gain further insight into the relationship between emerging technologies and copyright.

On 29 June 2017, the Minister of Commerce, Jacqui Dean, released a Terms of Reference document regarding the review, outlining its objectives and process.

Broadly, the objectives of the review are to:

  • assess the performance of the Copyright Act against the objectives of New Zealand’s copyright regime (discussed further below);
  • identify barriers to achieving the objectives of New Zealand’s copyright regime, and the level of impact that these barriers have; and
  • formulate a preferred approach to addressing these issues – including amendments to the Copyright Act, and the commissioning of further work on any other regulatory or non-regulatory options that are identified.

The objectives of New Zealand’s copyright regime, subject to consultation through an issues paper, are described in the terms of reference document as follows, to:

  • provide incentives for the creation and dissemination of works, where copyright is the most efficient mechanism to do so;
  • permit reasonable access to works for use, adaption and consumption, where exceptions to exclusive rights are likely to have net benefits for New Zealand;
  • ensure that the copyright system is effective and efficient, including providing clarity and certainty, facilitating competitive markets, minimising transaction costs, and maintaining integrity and respect for the law; and
  • meet New Zealand’s international obligations.

The next step of the process for the review will involve the release of an issues paper for public consultation in early 2018.

The issues paper, and the public feedback to the questions proposed in the paper, will dictate the further scope of the review. Possible further steps highlighted in the Terms of Reference document include the release of an options paper for consultation, cabinet policy consideration, and release of an exposure draft Bill, if amendment to the Act is deemed necessary.

Keep an eye out for the Issues paper in early 2018. We will post a further news article when this is released.

If you are particularly interested in the review, or have concerns or queries regarding the applicability of copyright in New Zealand to your business, please contact us here.

Jesse Strafford - July 2017

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