Assert your rights as the author of an original work and prevent competitors from copying your products, brand or creative works.

What is copyright?

In New Zealand, copyright arises automatically under the Copyright Act 1994 upon the creation of various original works. These include literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, as well as sound recordings, films, communication works and the typographical arrangement of published editions. The range of works protected as ‘artistic works’ is very broad and can include virtually any original graphic works, such as industrial designs and logos.

Copyright in New Zealand does not need to be (and cannot be) registered, unlike other intellectual property rights such as trade marks, patents, and designs. Many other countries do have a copyright registration system. While New Zealand law does not require that copyright owners use the © symbol to identify their work, if used prominently it creates an additional layer of protection by putting the public on notice that the work is subject to copyright.

Copyright owners’ rights

Copyright is a long-lived right, in many cases lasting for well over 50 years. The owner of copyright generally has the exclusive right to copy and distribute protected works and to authorise others to do so, although there are various exceptions to this. Authors of copyright works can also assert their moral rights, for example, to insist that they are identified as the author of a work or to object to derogatory treatment of it.

How Baldwins can help

Copyright is a complex area and we provide a wide range of advice on copyright related matters.


We have an experienced team that specialises in helping clients commercialise products they have protected by copyright.


We advise on the existence and ownership of copyright, particularly where there may be more than one author of a copyright work or where a work has been commissioned or arisen in the course of an employee’s employment. To give effect to ownership rights, we often prepare deeds of assignment of rights in copyright works. We also provide advice on Crown copyright.


We specialise in copyright enforcement. Depending on our clients’ objectives, this may involve merely seeking recognition of authorship, requesting removal of copyright material from websites, requiring a licence to use copyright material, sending cease and desist letters, or pursuing copyright infringement proceedings before the Courts.

If you would like to talk to us about any aspect of copyright law, including copyright infringement, please contact one of our team.

Meet our experts

  • Paul Johns
    Head of Dispute Resolution, Auckland

  • phone+64 9 359 7733
  • phonelink_ring+64 27 558 5866
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  • Thomas Huthwaite
    Senior Associate, Wellington

  • phone+64 4 494 9600
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