Parallel importation restrictions on films to be extended

Monday 15th July 2013

The ban on parallel importation of films on DVD and Blu-Ray into New Zealand for a period after release is to be extended, but for a shorter time period.  New Zealand’s copyright law was amended in 2003 to contain a ban on commercial parallel importation of films for a period of nine months following first release of films overseas.  That section was a sunset provision, in other words it had an expiry deadline. It was renewed in 2008 until 31 October 2013.

The government has decided not to abandon the restriction altogether, but instead to shorten the relevant restricted period from nine months to five months.  The rationale for this is that the timeframe between international and local release has shortened since the enactment of the Copyright Act in 1994. The government considers that five months is enough of a gap to protect film distributors and give them time to release the new films in New Zealand.  The most at risk films are those for family viewing and the five month period is considered enough to protect distributors from the delays from the overseas, particularly US, release until the next school holidays.

The restriction is to last for three years, to cover the period of switchover to digital exhibition technology. A bill implementing the change was introduced on 2 July and will be enacted in time for the 31 October 2013 deadline.

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