Rhetoric or Reason? An Analysis of Copyright Reforms to Secure Rewards for Authors
37 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 4, 2017
Copyright law protects works, but does not protect the authors who create them. As the weaker party in negotiations, authors face insufficiently remunerative bargains, often made early in their careers. The Copyright Act 1994 is currently under review, and reform should be considered. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate legislative mechanisms to secure rewards for authors from their works. It considers the contrasting schemes in the United States and in Germany and considers the desirability of adopting these approaches in New Zealand. The US approach is a termination right which allows authors to recapture their copyrights after 35 years. The scheme in Germany requires that authors’ contracts meet minimum equitable standards or be subject to amendment. This paper considers that there are significant problems with adopting either approach in New Zealand. These problems include the risk of harming authors overall, enforcement, the interests of disseminators, arbitrariness, uncertainty and administrative difficulties. Ultimately, this paper recommends that neither option is desirable. It concludes that there is a clear need for solutions, however a cautious approach must be taken to any reforms which are intended to address such a complex problem.
Keywords: copyright Act 1994, copyright, authors, intellectual property
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation