Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act

The New Zealand government recently passed an Amendment Act to the Copyright Act 1994 which is said to update New Zealand’s copyright law to ensure that New Zealand “keeps up to speed with recent advances in digital technology”.

Significant changes include:

- The introduction of technology neutral terms by making specific reference to digital formats.

- Allowing transient reproduction of copyright works provided the copying is also incidental and is an integral and essential part of a technological process for making or receiving a communication that does not infringe copyright or fair dealing and “has no independent economic significance”.

- The introduction of a notice and take down regime for ISPs.  There is no liability for an ISP when storing and caching information provided the ISP takes down infringing material as soon as possible after it is made aware of it.  This requires ISPs to make an assessment of the claim in the notice and make a decision whether it considers the material is likely to infringe copyright.

- Allowing format shifting for sound recordings.  Purchasers of sound recordings may make one copy of a sound recording for each device owned by the purchaser (iPod or PC for example) for their own personal use and they must retain the original sound recording.  The format shifting provision only applies to sound recordings.  It does not apply to visual works such as videos or DVDs or music videos to be played on iPods.

- Significant changes to the provisions for educational establishments, libraries, educational resource providers and archives.

- Allowing reverse engineering of computer programmes by means of observing, studying or testing the functions of the programme in order to determine the ideas and principles that underlie the programme.

Some of the Amendment Act came in to force in April 2008 and the remainder is likely to come in to force later in 2008.

This article was published in Managing Intellectual Property in July 2008.