A copyright review

Stuff reports:

Old and new sores are likely to be opened up by a long-awaited review of the country’s law, which has now taken a step forward.

Media companies, Hollywood interests and consumers have struggled to agree on what is fair treatment of copyrighted works in the internet age.

Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean set out the terms of reference for a review and said public consultations would begin early next year.

But a Cabinet paper warned copyright was a complex area and the Government would “not be able to resolve all issues to everybody’s satisfaction”.

Of course not. So the Government should look at what is overall best for the public interest.

Hollywood interests are understood to be worried New Zealand lawmakers might go down the same path recommended by Australia’s productivity commission last year, and consider including a broad “fair use” clause in the Copyright Act.

New Zealand should absolutely do this. The United States itself has a broad “fair use” clause and you can’t argue the US doesn’t have a very active content creation industry. Israel and Singapore have the same, and are hubs of innovation.

The Australian Productivity Commission found that the greatest economic benefit to Australia would come from a broad fair use clause, rather than having a statutory list of permitted uses. Any statutory list of permitted uses will be out of date almost as soon as it is printed. Would data and text mining have been included a few years ago?

Here’s some of the uses that can come under fair use:

  • research
  • review
  • criticism
  • parody/satire
  • reporting
  • quoting
  • time shifting
  • format shifting
  • library lending
  • data mining
  • backups

One of its client’s concerns appeared to be that a broad fair-use clause might make it easier for people to convert and store copies of movies and other content they had previously bought by uploading them to cloud storage services.

While not necessarily of major concern in itself, that could blunt the tools copyright owners have in their arsenal to detect and control outright piracy.

A great example of why we should have fair use. Of course if you have purchased a work, you should be able to back it up on a cloud device.

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