Original literary, artistic, musical, architectural and sculptural works are protected by copyright law, as are films, records, tapes and similar creative works.  Ideas as such are not protected by copyright law – only the material embodiment of an idea can be protected by copyright.

Copyright is infringed only by copying:- a person who produces a virtually identical work to an existing work, without any prior knowledge of that existing work, does not infringe copyright.  Also, copyright does not protect the copyright owner from somebody who takes the essential ideas from the copyright work and reworks those ideas into a different form, because copyright does not protect the idea but only the form of the idea.

The New Zealand Copyright Act provides that copyright is created automatically whenever an original literary or artistic or other copyrightable work is carried out in New Zealand.  Copyright cannot be registered in New Zealand nor are there any formalities for recording copyright or for renewing copyright.

The duration of copyright normally is 50 years from the date of death of the author, but this varies somewhat according to the kind of work which is the subject of copyright, and for detailed information on this point you should seek further information from one of our patent attorneys.

Copyright exists internationally by agreement and to invoke copyright internationally the copyright article must be marked “©” followed by the name of the copyright owner and the year the work originated, e.g. © Joe Bloggs 2015.  The name of the copyright holder must be the owner’s real name or the name of a limited company.

As mentioned above, there are no formal requirements for recording copyright, but it is a good practice with any original work, to make sure that the work is signed by the author and dated, so that if the copyright of the work is ever disputed at a later date, the authorship and the date on which the work was carried out can be easily established.  If you are using a computer design programme, ensure you archive regularly, and do not overwrite old versions of the design; you may need to prove the date of creation of every change, to enforce your copyright.

Previous: Registered Designs