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US eyes NZ copyright laws

Published: 7:41PM Sunday March 11, 2012 Source: ONE News

There are plans to almost double the length of New Zealand's copyright protection as part of a multi-national trade deal with the United States.

Leaked documents have revealed the US is pushing for changes to copyright laws which would affect Kiwi musicians, artists and authors.

Intellectual property rights are currently protected under copyright law for 50 years after the creators' death, but the US wants this extended to 70 years.

New Zealand musician Ray Colombus said anything that benefits the artist is a benefit for the country.

"Some people believe in public domain. Why? Just so you can rip off dead people's works? That's pathetic."
But the push to give publishing and recording companies greater rights is more controversial. They want the term of copyright protection almost doubled to 95 years after a work is first released.

"It's a balance between creators and the right, or the ability of creators, to monetise their work for a limited period of time, and the greater right of the public to access that work, " lawyer Rick Shera told ONE News.

However, the Green Party argued Kiwis will miss out on freely accessing, remixing and sampling music, as well as adapting classic literature like that of James K Baxter.

"Ninety-five years is excessive. It's not going to be benefiting the artists, the creators. It's going to benefiting those who've purchased the rights to the music", said Green Party list MP Gareth Hughes.

"This is our cultural heritage after all and we should be able to keep creating and adding on the works."

When 60s pop star Columbus suffered a stroke nearly four years ago, he was able to pay the bills because every time a song he has performed gets played, he still collects a fee.
"The performing fees I get give a dribbling of an income that's so important to artists."

Another round of trans-Pacific partnership talks wrapped up in Australia this week.