Entire Copyright Act to be scrapped

The National government will freeze any further changes to the Copyright Act with an eye to throwing the whole thing out and rewriting it from scratch.

Over the last two months the National government has progressively scrapped Labour’s ‘band-aid’ adjustments to the Copyright Act 1994.

Wholesale reform of the Copyright Act was part of the National Party’s election promise, but has since been put on the backburner for the government and “is not considered a priority at this stage”.

The Copyright Act was written in the pre-internet age, and does not address any of the complexities surrounding file sharing, format shifting, and other modern issues such as DVD copying – problems the last government was attempting to fix in a piecemeal fashion.

Any further “band-aid” approaches to the act will not go be going ahead, leaving an uncertain period for the IP industry until Justice minister Simon Power begins the reform process.

There is no set timeline on this.

Simon Fogerty, senior associate at AJ Park, an intellectual property law firm, welcomes the move to redraft the act as opposed to running with a series of amendments.

“The technological developments and new ways of using copyright works since 1994 means that the act really needs a full review which can bring the law into the 21st century. It will give copyright owners and users a chance to have considered input into the form of the act. This should help to avoid issues and concerns like those that have arisen in relation to the now frozen s92A,” he says.

Section 92a was a failed attempt to update the now archaic legislation for the iPod age, which saw public outcry of a perceived invasion of privacy.

Commerce and Justice minister Simon Power initially delayed the amendment, and has now frozen it indefinitely.

Most recently the government dropped the Copyright (Commissioning Rule) Amendment Bill from the 16 April parliamentary order paper – effectively meaning the bill is off the agenda.

This Bill proposed amending the Copyright Act so that the person who creates a copyright work, rather than the person who commissions the work, would be the first owner of copyright in that work.

Other than the obvious applications in artistic circles, it had become grey area for architects, for example, where the commissioner (say, a property developer) could claim copyright over an architect’s work – effectively restraining the architect’s future use of that design or variants.

This problem is mostly solved by producing a clear contract between the two parties, and is not considered urgent.

In March National did a similar thing to another of Labour’s proposed amendments, scrapping the Copyright (Artists’ Resale Right) Amendment Bill.

This controversial addition would give the original artist the right to claim royalties on each resale of the artists work.

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9 Comments & Questions

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Allan Swann is ill-informed.

The outcry over S92a was not about mere privacy issues, but over the fundamental change to New Zealand law which the section implied, that of guilt upon accusation, with no means of redress.

The act required a citizens (or company's) access to the internet to be cut off merely because someone had _accused_ them of copyright infringement, with no requirement to actually prove it in a court of law.

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working through the principles of all these matters and finding a balanced answer seems to get lost nowadays.....often with common sense flying out the window.
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So the bill is dropped, good people everywhere win and we should thank National? Hardly, the lobbies pushing for copyright reform have agendas, duh, the better legislative controls of copyright the better we charge you. I don't greet this type of reform as good news at all and National are not heroes for only making change when it came to protest.

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Hi Frank, the story is not intended to cover the myriad of issues surrounding 92a - which i have covered in great detail in the past.
The link embedded in the story is provided for those who want to investigate further.
Thanks
Allan

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What's your basis for this story? Contact with Minister Power's office today indicates they are still working on s92A. I can find no sources within government (and, trust me, I know where to look) that verify or even hint at your allegations. Put up or withdraw, please.

Mark Harris
<a href="http://tracs.co.nz/gripping-hand/">On the Gripping Hand</a>

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May 1st....?

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Awesome idea. This is a badly written piece of legislation from the transitional arrangements with regard to photographs to the absence of anything about orphaned works or parody. Let's review the whole thing.
I'd love it if the National government were to instruct the Ministry of Economic Development to repeat the Police Act Review process and open up a wiki for the public of New Zealand. That way it wouldn't just be industry representatives that have a say but also Creative Commons NZ, the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives and museums), educational institutions and the public of NZ - who thanks to s92A are much better informed than they were.

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This report is not correct - the Act is not being scrapped. And nor did National say there would be "wholesale reform", as your reporter says. The policy was to "update" it. There's a big difference. In any case, the only work the Government is undertaking right now in relation to the Copyright Act is on a replacement for Section 92A. This work is proceeding to address the concerns of ISPs, rights holders, and the public. Cabinet recognises that online copyright piracy is costly to New Zealand’s creative industries and needs to be addressed. The Government has removed the Copyright (Commissioning Rule) Amendment Bill and the Copyright (Artists' Resale Right) Amendment Bill from the Order Paper because the previous Minister's priorities do not fit with the National Government's priorities.

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