Friday, July 01, 2022

Labour fucks us on copyright again

Last night the government concluded a free trade agreement with the European Union. I'm pretty meh about FTAs, largely because they seem to be a backdoor for pro-corporate irregulation than actual trade now, so I wasn't enthusiastic to begin with (though on the plus side this one does at least make the Paris climate agreement legally enforceable, meaning that if farmers don't cut their emissions they can be cut out of the market). And then I read the bit in the "key outcomes" summary about copyright:

New Zealand has agreed to extend copyright term by 20 years for authors, performers and producers. New Zealand will also extend the protection it gives to digital locks (technological protection measures) to include preventing a person undertaking an act to circumvent those locks other than in limited circumstances. New Zealand will have four years from entry into force of the Agreement to implement these changes to the Copyright Act 1994.
Labour had already sold us out on term extension in their FTA with the UK, but at least that had a 15 year transition period. Now we'll have four. And with the FTA expected to enter into force around 2024, that means nothing will enter the public domain in New Zealand from 2028 or so. Immediate casualties will include Mary Scott (whose works would otherwise enter the public domain in NZ in 2030), Dennis Glover (2031), Bruce Mason (2033) and Ngaio Marsh (2033). They're literally going to be locking our culture away from us, forbidding the production of adaptations and derivative works for a further twenty years.

And they're doing this when the government admits there is no benefit to New Zealand from term extension, and that it does not further incentivise the creation of new works - the latter meaning that term extension violates the Bill of Rights Act. They're also doing it when MFAT and MBIE had told parliament back in April that they would "provide advice on mitigating factors that may guard against the potential harm of the copyright extension term". Against that backdrop, cutting a deal to do it even faster seems a lot like lying to Parliament to me.