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Discussion paper released on commissioning rule

Discussion paper released on commissioning rule

The Government is to review two specific issues of copyright law, Associate Commerce Minister Judith Tizard said today.

A discussion document, The Commissioning Rule, Contracts and the Copyright Act 1994 prepared by the Ministry of Economic Development, considers two main issues: the provision of the Copyright Act 1994 that deals with commissioned works, known as the “commissioning rule”; and the interface between copyright and contract law.

Judith Tizard said the rights and protections provided by the Copyright Act are crucial to New Zealand’s creative sector.

“Copyright is an important element of our innovation framework and forms the basis of the legal protection for the creative industries. It's therefore vital that our copyright laws continue to evolve to meet the demands of our changing world.”

The “commissioning rule" currently applies to a range of copyright-protected works, including photographs, computer programs, paintings, drawings, plans, sculptures, films, and sound recordings. Where these works are commissioned, the person who commissions the work will be the first owner of copyright, rather than the creator.

The discussion paper seeks public submissions on this provision, and in particular, whether any changes or amendments are considered necessary.

The paper also addresses the interface between copyright and contract law, and in particular, the ability to contract out of copyright legislation. Contracts are frequently used, particularly in the digital environment, to set the terms and conditions of access to and use of copyright material, including restrictions on the statutory exceptions in copyright legislation.

“We want to find out whether the interface between copyright and contract law is causing difficulties in New Zealand”, Judith Tizard said.

She encouraged people with an interest in the issue – especially photographers, businesses and individuals commissioning photographs and other works, authors and creators, the cultural sector, copyright owners, users of copyright works, non-governmental organisations – to make a submission. These submissions will be considered in the development of policy recommendations to the government on possible legislative reform.

The discussion paper is on the Ministry's website. Submissions close on 31 May 2006.


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