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NZIPP Supports Copyright Amendment

23 September 2008
Media Release for Immediate Distribution

The New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP)1 strongly supports the amendment to the Copyright (Commissioning Rule) Amendment Bill which was introduced to government today by Associate Commerce Minister Judith Tizard.

“This decision brings our industry and other creatives one step closer to the repeal of the currently unfair commissioning rule for copyright works” said Mr. Chris Parker, NZIPP President. “We have been asking for this to be corrected since 1994.”

“Repeal of the commissioning rule will bring New Zealand in line with most of our trading partners such as Australia, UK and the US and will mean that we will finally comply with the Berne Copyright Convention2 which was signed in New Zealand in 1928.”

For decades New Zealand Professional Photographers have argued that they have been significantly disadvantaged by commissioners of photography who automatically gained copyright to their work and intellectual property.

“Professional photographers and other creatives are on the back foot in negotiations when it comes to owning copyright. We have had to contract out of the law as it stands in order to protect our businesses - and that’s not always easy,” Mr. Parker commented.

“The commissioning rule gives clients full copyright to any images even if the client doesn’t pay” said Mr. Parker. “It also puts the very essence of a photographers business at risk whereby the commissioner could gain ownership of a photographer’s specific creative style and thereby restrict them from shooting in that style ever again.”

Many photographers have lost income because images have been used for purposes well beyond the original scope of the brief and the price that was originally agreed for that use.

Mr. Parker said a specific example of how the rule is unfair was magazines paying low assignment rates and then reusing the images later in commercially produced books.

“The publisher generates considerable additional income but in most cases the photographer hasn’t received a cent for that additional usage,” he said.

Another example has been tourism organisations commissioning images for specific campaigns and then allowing uncontrolled distribution to third parties who want stock images for publication. This has resulted in significant losses to photographers through lost photo library image sales and also potential assignments.

“The licensing business model is not new” said Mr. Parker “It operates successfully in many other countries and in other industries for many years.”

The revised legislation will not restrict the client’s access to the images and exclusivity clauses will prevent the photographer selling to other parties without the clients consent.

“Ultimately photographers will get fairly rewarded for their work and clients will only pay for the usage they require,” said Mr. Parker. “So most importantly - it’s fair and reasonable for both parties.”


1 The New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers (NZIPP) is the only qualifying body for professional photographers in New Zealand, and currently has over 350 members across NZ covering the disciplines of Wedding, Portrait and Commercial Photography. First founded in 1938, it represents the interests of professional photographers across NZ on issues relevant to the industry such as copyright, legal and business matters, and technical developments in rapidly changing areas such as digital imaging. It cultivates friendship and mutual understanding between photographers and raises the profile of professional photography through its activities, annual awards and events.

2 The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually referred to as the Berne Convention, is an international agreement governing copyright, which was first accepted in Berne, Switzerland in 1886. Under the Berne Convention, copyrights for creative words are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. As of September 2008, there are 164 countries that are parties to the Berne Convention.


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