New Zealand Hit with Copyright Reform

New Zealand is undergoing some copyright changes (Copyright Reform Bill – in PDF and plain text). Many countries have talked – and have acted on – changing Copyright, but the process isn’t typically one without controversy from one side or another.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

It seems a few concepts on TPM’s (Technical Protection Measures), format shifting, time shifting, broadcasters and even webcasters have gotten some attention.

In the United States case, it seems consumers are more upset over newer copyright laws. The picture is similar in Australia. In Sweden, a lot of noise has been made about reform that appears favorable to consumers in the last election. Canada has been slow on updating copyright laws, but it may be thanks to unstable minority governments which have upset the Canadian Recording Industry Association among a few other groups. France has similarly upset similar groups at one point with a few laws that revolved around Digital Rights Management that could have affected iTunes, but since backed down.

So what is being currently reformed in New Zealand’s copyright act? A story that shook the podcasting and vidcasting community was the broadcast treaties proposed in WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Essentially, the fear was that the treaty would dictate that whoever transmits content also has rights over the file being transmitted. Now, in New Zealand’s case, it’s not quite the case, but rather, giving the rights to “webcasters” just like a broadcaster.

Another change is the format shifting. As it stands, if a said person legally obtains a said work, that said person can put only one copy on each device that said person legally owns. The said work cannot be borrowed and the purpose must be for private and personal use.

One particular change that may be of particular interest to the average consumer is the time-shifting exception. If a TV show airs, under the proposed new laws, a person must be reasonably sure that the television show isn’t available to be paid for first (i.e. if it’s not available on DVD or on a digital store like iTunes)

With regards to TPM’s, if a user wants to make use of content, but is unable to do so with a TPM, that user can ‘apply to the copyright owner’. If the owner doesn’t reply within a reasonable amount of time, the user can ‘apply’ to an archivist, librarian, or educational establishment so the TPM can be circumvented on their behalf. A person can be held liable if they sell or ‘deal’ out a circumvention device.

The proposed reform provides an interesting perspective on the debate over copyright. Judging by the provisions, technology seems to be a real driving force behind it, but not necessarily file-sharing in particular. Weatherall’s blog has made note of this copyright law development.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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