With the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations having just occurred in Melbourne I’m urging the Government not to surrender New Zealand’s sovereignty on copyright so we can keep enjoying Kiwi Music in the public domain.
Under a leaked draft of the TPPA, copyright length is to be extended from 50 to ‘…not less than 95 years from the end of the calendar year of the first authorized publication of the work, performance, or phonogram,’ meaning music and recordings set to enter the public domain in New Zealand will take decades longer.
An iconic song that would be impacted by the copyright extension is the Fourmyula’s “Nature”which was voted the best New Zealand song ever written. Produced in 1969 this song should enter the public domain in 2020 to be remixed, re-played, and re-imagined however under proposed TPPA rules Kiwis would have to wait to 2065. Likewise Ray Columbus’s “She’s a Mod,” released in June 1964 wouldn’t enter the public domain till 2059.
The extension in the term of copyright would mean no new works would enter the public domain in New Zealand until at least the late 2050s negatively impacting access to New Zealand culture and history. In particular ‘orphan works’ that aren’t available commercially would just not be accessible.
Kiwi listeners and artists will miss out on freely accessing Kiwi classics until the 2060s not benefiting the musicians who would have likely died decade’s prior, but benefitting mostly very profitable businesses who own the copyright. Copyright is about finding a balance and I welcome a discussion – should it be 40, 50, 60 years etc. but I think 95 years is extreme.
95 years definitely is extreme, and the TPP should not be used to rewrite our copyright and other intellectual property laws. The Government has been resisting the US demands, but of course at some stage there will be great pressure to make concessions. Our concessions should be allowing the US to export whatever goods or services they want to us, but not allowing them to export their laws onto us.