What is copyright?

Copyright is a property right that exists in original literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works.

Like the name suggests, copyright laws protect against unauthorised copying of a copyright work. Copyright does not protect the idea embodied in a copyright work, only the way in which that idea has been expressed. Under NZ copyright law “original” means not copied from anything else. Another way of expressing this is that the work must be the product of the author’s own time, labour, skill and judgment.

There is no requirement to register copyright in New Zealand. Copyright can be used to prevent one party from copying the work of another.

It applies to musical, dramatic, artistic and literary works (including models, sculptures, drawings, plans, songs, computer software and written material such as books, manuals and advertising brochures). It is not so well known that copyright also applies to the design of a product.

The primary focus of this guide is on the protection of innovation: consequently the subject of copyright in works such as photographs, literary works, music and films falls outside its scope. It is however a topic in which the professional staff at James & Wells have specialist knowledge.

If you require further information about copyright in other works such as software, photographs, text or logos, then please contact us directly.

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