What is Copyright?

Copyright is a right given to the creator of an original “work” to control the use made of that work.
Works include:

  • Literary (including tables and computer programmes)
  • Dramatic
  • Musical
  • Artistic (including diagrams, illustrations, photographs)
  • Typographical arrangement (layout of published editions)
  • Film & video
  • Sound recording
  • Broadcasts – radio, television
  • Cable programmes
  • Internet material

Copyright protects the expression of an idea in a material form, not the idea itself.

Copyright protection automatically occurs as soon as an idea is expressed in a material form.

For example:
Staff - Lectures and presentations are automatically the copyright of the presenter, as is study commentary in study guides.
Students - Answers to assessment activities are automatically copyright of students.

There may be more than one copyright owner in a work. For instance, in a book, author/s own the literary rights while the publisher owns the typographical rights. A television programme may well have 20 or more rights’ owners, such as rights of the writers, music composers and musicians, set designers, choreographers and so on.

Copyright is infringed unless you comply with the Copyright Act 1994, a licence, or are granted permission by a rights' holder.

Why is Copyright protected?

The creator has the right to receive payment for the copying of a “work” and the right to prevent any unauthorised use of it. In New Zealand, the law that applies to copyright is the Copyright Act 1994. It attempts to balance the rights of copyright owners with the rights of users of copyright material.

What acts are restricted by Copyright?

Unless covered by an exception, a specific copyright licence, or permission from the rights' holder the following acts are restricted by copyright.

  • To copy [a] work
  • To issue copies of [a] work to the public, whether for sale or otherwise
  • To perform [a] work in public
  • To play [a] work in public
  • To show [a] work in public
  • To broadcast [a] work or include [a] work in a cable programme service
  • To make an adaptation of [a] work
  • To authorise another person to do any of the acts referred to above