The movie import ban

Aimee Gilliver at Stuff reports:

Cinema owners will benefit from the extended ban on parallel imports of movies, but in three years retailers will be able to sell a movie on DVD at the same time it is showing in cinemas, under new law.

The (Parallel Importing of Films) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in Parliament this week. It reduces the ban period on parallel importation of films for commercial use from nine months from the international release date to five months for the next three years.

The ban allows the New Zealand copyright holder of a film to control when retailers are allowed to access copies to provide to consumers – otherwise, a movie could be sold on DVD by a retailer who had imported it from a foreign right-holder at the same time it was being shown in cinemas here.

It was initially set to lapse on October 31 but has been extended for three years in a reduced form to give cinema owners time to adjust, and convert to digital exhibition. …

Blogger David Farrar said the difficulty in buying content legally has helped create a generation of people who download unauthorised copies because it is the only way they can view what they want to, when they want to, and in the form they want to.

“Ultimately New Zealanders want to be able to purchase movies the same day as they can read reviews about them online.

“Any law that makes it harder for New Zealanders to purchase movies legally is likely to be reasonably ineffectual as people won’t wait five months or nine months to be able to buy a copy for themselves.”

The three-year extension may prevent new business models emerging because it gave an exclusive period for movie theatres, Mr Farrar said.

“Many New Zealanders could well be happy to pay say $50 to view a movie at home the week it is released, but there is no legal way for them to do so.”

The three-year ban, with a shorter time period, is an advantage, Mr Farrar said.

“It gives movie theatres time to plan for an era where they’ll be competing with online delivery of content.

“Some may struggle, but some may adapt well to the competition and focus more on making going to the theatre part of a better experience and a fun night out.”

As I said, I think it would be great if we can buy content in the format we want it, when we want it.

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