Balancing the rights of authors and content users
Copyright is not only concerned with author rights. It balances the right of authors to choose how their creations are used, with society’s interest in allowing people to access intellectual and creative content. The law attempts to achieve this balance in a variety of ways, such as limiting the period of copyright protection, excluding some types of “public” documents from copyright protection, and by allowing exceptions from infringement in certain cases.
One of the most important ways the Copyright Act balances the various rights and interests of content creators and content users, is by allowing people to use copyright works in some cases without the need to get permission. The Act contains provisions where people are free to copy, perform, play, show or communicate copyright works as long as they do so in accordance with the provisions. Copyright exceptions are referred to as “permitted uses” in the Copyright Act and these terms are used interchangeably in this knowledge base. There are many different statutory exceptions, which can be summarised into the following categories:
- Fair dealing – which applies to people engaged in news reporting, criticism or review and research or private study.
- Exceptions applicable to particular kinds of institutions or users – limited exceptions that apply in the educational context, in libraries and archives and in public administration.
- Exceptions for particular uses in specific circumstances – a collection of ad hoc exceptions.
Differences in national laws
There can be significant differences between the copyright limitations in NZ and those under the law of other countries. For example, NZ does not have a general “fair use” defence as exists in United States copyright law. In addition, some other countries allow the use of third party copyright material for the purposes of parody and satire. There is currently no equivalent copyright exception in NZ.