TPP and copyright

Why the economic contribution of creative industries is important.

One of the much-discussed elements of the TPP agreement is an extension of the term of copyright from life of the author plus 50 years to life of the author plus 70 years. This would bring New Zealand into line with many other western economies, including the United Kingdom and Germany.

There has been a fair amount of speculation in the media about the effects of this extension, including the potential economic impact.

One of the points raised has been the potential cost to consumers – something that’s very hard to quantify. It’s hard to know what material people will want to access in 50 or 70 years’ time and how often access will be requested. It is, however, important to remember that our creative industries contribute significantly to GDP and national employment. The recent PwC “Employment and National GDP impacts of music, publishing, games and film and television in New Zealand” puts this contribution at $3.84 billion in GDP and direct employment of 20,000 full-time equivalent employees for 2014.

Copyright doesn’t make content inaccessible, it protects the rights of people who create original works. So, a longer term of copyright won’t lock content up and prevent access to that material – but it may well help authors and content creators to make a living from their work for a longer period. If material is valuable enough to use years after its created then a reasonable fee for its use is fair.

The creative sector has a vision for New Zealand to be a net exporter of intellectual property, an aim that requires strong support for creators here just as they are supported in our main markets overseas.

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