The New Zealand government plans to change the country's copyright laws to authorize private copying.

MELBOURNE--The New Zealand government plans to change the country's copyright laws to authorize private copying.

If introduced, the amendment would allow owners of legitimately obtained CDs to make a single copy for personal use, similar to those freedoms enjoyed by North American consumers or in some European countries such as France. The United Kingdom and Australia do not have such provisions.

The proposed amendment is sponsored by the government's Economic Development Ministry. The law could be passed and implemented by mid-2004.

The New Zealand Cabinet has agreed in principle to the change, but will await the outcome of select committees hearings. The government has emphasized that duplicating a CD for a third party, or from a CD not purchased legitimately, would still be outlawed.

The Record Industry Assn. of New Zealand (RIANZ) is objecting to the government's plans, arguing that it could send the wrong message to consumers, who are currently banned from making any copies. Others predict it could open the door to unregulated "copycat kiosks."

Furthermore, RIANZ is mulling whether to take civil action against a man who is accused of copying up to 70 CDs to his laptop in a public library in the city of Wellington. Police decided against prosecuting the unidentified man when he convinced them that he was copying the discs for personal consumption only.