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New Zealand Extends Copyright Term to 70 Years

Recorded Music NZ CEO Jo Oliver welcomes the outcome as one that places domestic artists and rights holders "on a level playing field with their overseas counterparts."

New Zealand has agreed to extend the term of copyright in sound recordings, a development the domestic music industry is celebrating as a “long overdue change” that should further protect authors, performers and producers.

Currently, NZ recording artists and right holders enjoy copyright protection on their recordings for 50 years from the date of release.

Those protections will be extended to 70 years, thanks to a NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement — announced this week — which brings New Zealand’s copyright regulations into line with those across the European Union as a trading partner.

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Recorded Music NZ CEO Jo Oliver welcomes the outcome as one that places domestic artists and rights holders “on a level playing field with their overseas counterparts.”

Oliver continues, “copyright enables artists to make a living from their work and is fundamental to the sustainability and future growth of the music industry in Aotearoa.”

This extension “will help preserve and protect iconic recordings from Aotearoa,” Oliver adds, “and support the New Zealand artists that created them.”

As part of that broader pact, NZ will also extend the protection it gives to “digital locks,” which would prevent a consumer from using tools to crack those locks “other than in limited circumstances,” reads an explainer from the NZ department of foreign affairs and trade.

The federal government says that, while the negotiation is complete, the full text of the Free Trade Agreement is still being finalized.

The Government is expected to sign the agreement next year and when it enters into force there is a maximum of four years to implement these changes to the Copyright Act 1994.

“Copyright enables artists to make a living from their work and is fundamental to the sustainability and future growth of the music industry in Aotearoa,” Oliver concludes.

ICMP, the umbrella trade body representing the interests of the music publishing, is celebrating an important victory.

It’s “something we fought hard for,” which “affects each and every songwriter and composer, by 20 years,” explains ICMP director general John Phelan. “Great stuff.”

The complicated issue of copyright term became a full-blown battlefront for the music industry in the 2000s, when recordings from the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll were due to fall into the public domain for first time.

Following a prolonged campaign from the music industry, the EU in September 2011 agreed to extend the term of copyright protection offered to sound recordings from 50 to 70 years.

The legislation was first proposed by the European Commission in 2008, voted on by the European Parliament in April 2009, and was ultimately passed today by the EU Council of Ministers in Brussels.