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New law addresses parallel importing and piracy

New law addresses parallel importing and piracy in the creative industries

New legislation has been passed that will help to deter copyright piracy and address concerns over parallel importing of films, Associate Commerce Minister Judith Tizard said today.

“The passing of the Copyright (Parallel Importation of Films and Onus of Proof) Amendment Bill gives effect to the government’s commitment, signalled in the Speech from the Throne in 1999, to strongly support New Zealand’s professional, performing artists, and to nurture much stronger music, publishing and film industries,” said Judith Tizard.

The Copyright (Parallel Importation of Films and Onus of Proof) Amendment Bill amends the Copyright Act 1994 to:

ban the parallel importation of motion picture films for a period of nine months from a title’s first release;

make changes to the onus of proof in civil proceedings where it is alleged that films, sound recordings and computer programs that infringe copyright have been imported;

confirm that owners of copyright in films, sound recordings and computer software retain the exclusive right to authorise rental of their products, when such products are parallel imported;

make some consequential amendments to the Trade Marks Act 2002, to align policy on parallel importing in this Act with the Copyright Act.

“The film ban will give the film distribution industry a period of protection to allow for the orderly release of films, videos and DVDs. It aims to ensure that New Zealand picture theatres, particularly in rural and small communities, can continue to offer a wide range of film titles to New Zealand audiences,” said Judith Tizard.

“Changes to the onus of proof will include a presumption that suspected imported goods are pirated, unless the defendant proves otherwise, and ensure that defendants who in the circumstances ought reasonably to have known that goods were pirated do not escape liability for copyright infringement.

“These changes to the onus of proof would make it easier for right holders to take action against persons blatantly importing pirated material.

“These changes form part of the government’s overall commitment to encouraging and facilitating the growth of New Zealand’s creative industries and to ensuring that our intellectual property regime is balanced and robust.”

Judith Tizard said the new legislation also recognises the need to respond flexibly to a changing environment.

“We expect that new technology will change the way that copyright products such as films and sound recordings are distributed in the future. This will in turn provide copyright owners with new options for protecting their works.

“So we’ll be keeping the effects of the new legislation and the effects of parallel importing on the creative industries under review.”

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