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Getting copyright right

Mandy Henk, Guest Post. 08 February 2019, 7:06 am

New Zealand's Copyright Act is set for a review. Considering it was last updated in 2008, it's well overdue and much needed.

This means it's time to let the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) know your pain points when it comes to copyright. What's working for you now? What isn't working? And what needs updating to reflect current technologies and business models?

If you haven't read it yet, take a peek at MBIE's Issues Paper. It outlines the scope of the review and MBIE's understanding of the issues. You don't need to read all 125 pages to participate in the review -- you can focus on the most relevant parts and narrow your responses to those that matter to you.

So, let's look at some important details about the Copyright Act that matter for the New Zealand tech sector.

What you should know

  1. This isn't a chance to reinvent the proverbial wheel. Copyright laws are governed by a range of international treaties including the Berne Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention, and the TRIPS agreement. However much we might all like to start fresh, the fact is that copyright is, for really good reasons, a law that must work within the framework of our international commitments. But that still gives us plenty of room to build a better law here in New Zealand.

  1. MBIE is seeking input on a set of proposed Objectives for the copyright regime. They need to hear the perspective of the tech sector - specifically, what it hopes this law will achieve. Why do you think copyright should exist and what outcomes are important for society and for the economy? Do you care about access to information? Protecting your IP? Being able to share and build on the work of others? All of the above? This is your opportunity to let the government know why copyright matters to you and what you want to see the law accomplish.

  1. Technology has long moved past what the copyright law imagined - and now it's time to get them back in sync. It will take legislative support to fully realise the promise of both cloud computing and big data, and this is the chance for that to happen. More than that though, this is a chance to think about how we can make a law that is as technologically neutral as possible. The law will never move at the pace of tech, so we need to figure out how to build a law that's flexible and adaptable.

  1. We need to talk about a fair and balanced exception to copyright that is fitting for the digital age. Maybe we want one, maybe we don't -- but we need to talk about it and we need to help MBIE understand where the current range of exceptions and limitations aren't working, as well as and where they are. This is the key reason why we need wide engagement from the tech sector in the cCopyright lLaw review. The more you can tell your stories and share them with MBIE, the better they will understand your needs.

What you need to tell MBIE

You don't need to write a dissertation or have a deep understanding of policy to contribute to this review -- you just need to be willing to take the time to tell your story. MBIE has 97 specific questions on which they are seeking input -- but you only need to answer one or two - or all 97 if you like. It's up to you.

There are also a range of events and online activities coming up that will provide opportunities to talk about the review and help you prepare a submission.

  • Internet New Zealand is hosting an online discussion you can join.

  • MBIE is hosting workshops across New Zealand.

  • Aucklanders can join me and a range of other copyright geeks on 11 February at AUT. We'll have drinks, nibbles, and a chance to get serious about getting copyright right for New Zealand. It's free, so please do come along and talk copyright with us.

Who are you again?

We are Tohatoha! We used to be known as Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand (CCANZ), but now we're an independent incorporated society working to make the digital world fair and equitable through education and advocacy. We still care an awful lot about Creative Commons, but we are also focusing on making sure that the internet is a force for good in New Zealand and the world.

Interested in getting to know us better? Sign up for our newsletter and take a peek at our blog.

Mandy Henk is the CEO of Tohatoha Aotearoa Commons, a librarian, and an advocate for a healthy information commons.


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