Information on Copyright

The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc has two representatives on the board of Copyright Licensing NZ

We at NZSA work closely with Copyright Licensing NZ (CLNZ) and Publishers Association of NZ (PANZ) in a copyright working group that represents writers and publishers in any legislative review. We have developed a website that showcases creative rights in Aotearoa and can be used as a resource that showcases the roles of people involved in the writing, publishing, production and promotion of NZ books.



A NZ Copyright Law review is ongoing…

An Issues Paper for the review was produced in 2019 after a call for submissions. This review stalled in 2020 and NZSA is awaiting further developments in the awaited Options Paper. When NZ signed the EU Free Trade agreement in 2022 the NZ government agreed to Harmonisation of Term – so our review will need to include an amendment for the length of copyright term to align with international law.

Regulation around AI and the use of work in AI training are key areas of engagement.

NZSA, PANZ and CLNZ are also hoping to work with libraries to address policy around Orphan Works as part of the review.

Ownership of copyright

Copyright is a form of intellectual property right. It gives the person who creates an original work exclusive rights to copy, publish, publicly perform, transmit and adapt their material. Read more about the differences between copyright, IP and patent here.

In most cases, the author or creator is the person who creates a work and their fundamental right is to decide how their work will be used. During the term of copyright, anyone who wishes to copy or do another restricted act in relation to the relevant work must get permission from the copyright owner, unless the use is permitted under the Copyright Act.

Copyright protection arises automatically once an original work is written down or recorded in some way, such as on paper, on canvas or in digital form. Copyright applies to a broad range of material and applies to works available in hard copy or in digital form. The categories of works protected by copyright are: literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; the typographical layout of published editions; sound recordings; films; and communication works (such as TV/radio broadcasts and internet transmissions).


Copyright in Aotearoa

In New Zealand, copyright in literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works lasts for the life of the author plus fifty years from the end of the year in which the author dies. This will change to 75 years when the Copyright Act review continues. This provision for term harmonisation was agreed by the NZ government in the EU Free Trade Agreement and our legislation will need to be adapted to reflect this.

There was an amendment to our Copyright Act in 2008 to include references to digital books.


In 2019 Section 69 of the Act was amended around the Marrakesh Treaty. Marrakesh gives certain government-approved organisations the right to adapt work for those with disabilities – traditionally this was to produce versions of work in audio and braille for people with a visual disability. In 2019 copyright exceptions were extended as part of the review of the Marrakesh Treaty.

Put simply, the Copyright Act 1994 is a set of guidelines that explains how published content can and can not be used. The general rule is: if it is published, it is copyright protected. The full text of the Copyright Act can be accessed at Our copyright law has many similarities with those in other countries, but it is important to remember that the use of any copyright works in New Zealand, including overseas material is governed by the laws of this country.

One of the reasons for copyright is to provide an incentive for the creation and dissemination of creative works that meet our social and economic needs, including the promotion of learning and education. Society places significant value on creative and intellectual content such as books, journals, newspapers, art works, music and films. So if creators are able to earn just reward for their efforts, this is likely to stimulate more creativity for the public benefit.

Modern copyright law originated in England in 1709 with a piece of legislation known as the Statute of Anne, which granted authors the exclusive right to print books for a limited period of time. Since then, copyright laws have been introduced into most countries around the world and along with significant advances in technology, copyright laws have been progressively developed and updated to adapt to modern times. You can read more about the origins of copyright here.

Copyright exceptions

Copyright is not only about creators rights. Copyright balances the right of creators to choose how their creations are used, with society’s interest in allowing people to access and use works of intellectual or creative endeavour.

One of the most important ways the Copyright Act balances the various rights and interests, is by allowing people to use copyright works without the need to get permission. You can copy without permission from an original if it is for:

  • Research
  • Private study
  • Criticism or review
  • Reporting current events

The amount copied should be deemed ‘fair’. For example it might be fair for an individual to copy an entire poem or article if it is relevant to their study topic. On the other hand, it is unlikely to be fair to copy an entire book if only a section relates to the study.

In education, teachers and educators are permitted to copy the following from an original hardcopy:

  • A single copy (for lesson planning purposes)
  • Multiple copies to up to 3% or three pages (whichever is greater)

You can read more about copyright permissions and exclusions here.

New Zealand operates under a ‘Fair Dealing’ Copyright regime

Internationally there can be significant differences between the copyright exceptions in New Zealand and those under the law of other countries. For example, New Zealand does not have a general “Fair Use” defense as exists in United States copyright law (read more on this here). 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 New Zealand.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found here:


More information can be found on Copyright Licensing NZ website Here

Artificial Intelligence

NZSA seeks urgent regulation around AI.

Books by NZ writers have already been illegally ingested for AI training datasets.

We seek permissions and licensing arrangements for work used for AI training.

More links to international authors guides around AI can be found in the contracts section of our website.

The CLNZ/PANZ/NZSA position statement on AI can be viewed CLNZArtificial Intelligence Position Statement – finalised 280923