Changing the term of copyright will have a huge effect on libraries

The library industry is concerned that the government has agreed to extend the term of copyright for another 20 years. Libraries expect this to have a significant impact on their industry.

New Zealand and the UK have reached agreement in principle on key elements of a free trade agreement (FTA). The details of this agreement are yet to be finalized and legally verified, and national approval processes must be completed, but the FTA will affect the copyright terms here once it is enacted.

“The terms of copyright differ depending on what is protected. Books, for example, are protected for the life of the author plus fifty years. This will be extended until the author’s life plus seventy years and a new program will be put in place to return the income to authors for copyrighted works that are sold, ”said Melanie Johnson, Chairman of the LIANZA Copyright Standing Committee.

The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) has members from the library and information sector, museums and archives.

“One of the costs for New Zealand of better access to the UK for our primary products under the FTA is the extension of the term of copyright, for authors, performers and producers. This means that not only books, but movies and music will be locked up for an additional 20 years after the authors’ deaths, delaying the entry into the public domain of New Zealand works of cultural significance and the creation of new works. based on these works.

“The most important cultural works produced by New Zealand artists and writers will be delayed from entering the public domain until 2040 at the earliest. Professor Roger Horrocks observed in his 2011 publication that it was only during the Depression and World War II that a critical mass was achieved in serious and thoughtful work in poetry (Allen Curnow and ARD Fairborn), in painting (Colin McCahon, Toss Woollaston and Rita Angus) fiction (Frank Sargeson, John Mulgan and Dan Davin) and music (Douglas Lilburn). While Rita Angus is now in the public domain, most are not.

“The first New Zealand films, television and radio shows are starting to emerge from copyright. Locking them up for another 20 years will have an impact on cultural institutions without the resources to obtain permits to use these materials.

“The impact of this on our libraries and library users will be significant. Australian researchers compared the availability of books in countries with a copyright term of 70 years and more, with countries like New Zealand which were 50 years and older. They have shown that books are less available and more expensive when they are copyrighted than when they are in the public domain. The result is that libraries are forced to pay higher prices in exchange for poorer access.

Examining the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2016, the New Zealand Treasury found that the net cost of extending copyright term to New Zealand consumers would be $ 55 million per year.

“Research conducted in the United States has also shown that copyright ownership by publishers does not guarantee the availability of works, but rather that works disappear after their initial publication and only reappear when they are out of copyright. author.

The extended copyright term means less New Zealand content will be available, according to LIANZA. It will also exacerbate the problem of “orphan” works for collections of music, films and sound recordings, artistic and literary works in libraries and archives. Orphan works are generally works of little or no commercial value, but they can be a valuable selection for historians and artists.

“It seems that agreeing to extend the term of copyright will be seen as a retrograde step if we take into account developments abroad. Independent reviews, such as the Hargreaves report in the UK in 2011, and the Productivity Commission report in Australia in 2016, have noted the negative impacts of excessively long terms. In addition, it would appear that the Authors’ Guild in the United States has spoken out against the term extension and would likely support a return to a term of over 50 years. This is consistent with research showing that term extensions only benefit copyright owners, not authors.

“Given that the government has 15 years to implement the change, we can only hope that the slow reform of the Copyright Act will result in the full 15 years needed to incorporate it into law. and counter the negative impacts on users and creators, by expanding some of the exceptions to encourage the creation of new works by New Zealanders, says Johnson.

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