New Zealand Expands Music Copyright Protection to 70 Years Under EU Trade Deal

  • Save

  • Save
Auckland, New Zealand. Photo Credit: Dan Freeman

New Zealand is set to extend its music copyright protection from 50 years to 70 years, government officials have announced.

The 20-year extension of copyright protection in New Zealand (the home country of Benee, Lorde, and Fleetwood Mac’s Neil Finn, to name some) was negotiated as part of the Oceania nation’s newly announced trade agreement with the European Union.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade summarized this and other points in an 11-page-long analysis of the deal, writing of the lengthier copyright period: “New Zealand has agreed to extend copyright term by 20 years for authors, performers and producers.”

Given the inclusion of “authors, performers and producers” alike in the report, the extension will presumably cover both recordings and underlying compositions. For reference, the 5.08-million-resident state’s Copyright Act 1994 says that recorded copyrights expire “at the end of the period of 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work is made.”

Additionally, “Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work expires at the end of the period of 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies,” the act indicates – though it’s unclear whether this posthumous protection will likewise jump to 70 years. (The trade pact won’t be written out and signed until sometime in 2023, the involved nations relayed.)

In any event, organizations and professionals including Recorded Music NZ, New Zealand’s aptly named music industry representative, are touting the development’s benefits particularly for artists.

“Copyright enables artists to make a living from their work and is fundamental to the sustainability and future growth of the music industry in Aotearoa,” said Recorded Music NZ CEO Jo Oliver. “Extending copyright term to 70 years from the date of release puts New Zealand artists and right holders on a level playing field with their overseas counterparts.

“This long overdue change will help preserve and protect iconic recordings from Aotearoa, and support the New Zealand artists that created them,” concluded the nearly 15-year IFPI veteran Oliver.

New Zealand will have up to four years (after the deal goes into effect) to implement the extension, according to the government’s breakdown of the pact.

Worth mentioning in conclusion is the “movement of persons for business purposes” component of the trade deal, applying to EU and New Zealand citizens including “independent professionals” (“a self-employed business person with advanced technical or professional skills, providing services under contract”) and “contractual service suppliers” (“business persons providing services under contract in certain designated services sectors”).

Individuals in each category “will be eligible for periods of stay of up to 12 months” once the trade union goes into effect, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.