Govt has 'bungled' copyright costs

Lorde will now be able to claim royalties for her original works until she is in her 80s, instead of into her 60s.

Copyright changes in the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be worth millions of dollars to New Zealand creatives and companies - and the Government estimate of a net annual cost of $55 million is embarrassingly wrong, an economist says.

Dr George Barker, the director of the Centre for Law and Economics at the Australian National University, appeared before the foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee today to present on the copyright aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Dr Barker was appearing on behalf of Recorded Music New Zealand, who had paid his costs to come from Australia.

He told the committee that the Government had bungled its calculations on how copyright changes contained in the agreement would affect New Zealand.

The cost to the country had been greatly overestimated, and ignored all of the benefits to artists like Lorde and Split Enz, and companies like Weta Workshop.

"[The TPP changes] probably adds 20 to 30 percent to the profitability of Weta ... [currently] we are cutting off the revenues for the music industry, we are cutting off the revenues for our Booker Prize winners."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) says the cost to consumers and businesses of extending the copyright term from 50 years to 70 years will eventually rise to about $55 million a year.

However, Dr Barker said that estimate was based on erroneous research in 2009 by an Australian economist.

Officials were unable to provide access to the data behind the estimate, and Dr Barker said one possibility was a decimal point could have been put in the wrong place.

"It is not a question of assumptions or technical economics, it is just an arithmetic error, fundamentally, and a big one, an enormous one," Dr Barker said.

"There is a good news story for the New Zealand Government here, which is to be able to tell the people of New Zealand that, in fact, [copyright] term extension is a benefit to New Zealand."

He said the real cost of the extension to 70 years copyright term would be only about $240,000.

New Zealand musicians, authors, film-makers and artists will benefit from the longer copyright term, although MFAT has said these benefits will be modest.

For example, Lorde will now be able to claim royalties for her original works until she is in her 80s, instead of into her 60s.

Dr Barker said the Government analysis had all but ignored benefits, which would be significant. He estimated that, for music alone, the extension of the term could be worth as much as $150 million a year.

When costs and benefits were taken together, the copyright changes were clearly good news for New Zealand, Dr Barker said.

He asked the foreign affairs, defence and trade committee to recommend the error be corrected, and that the phase-in of the copyright changes be scrapped.

"The phase-in is based on the idea that this is costly to New Zealand, so therefore we don't want to do it. And we were the ones who negotiated an eight year phase-in, and that doesn't make sense. It is a benefit to New Zealand, why not grab it now."

Added costs?

• Copyright term to be extended from 50 years to 70 years under the TPP.

• For literary works, the 70-year term begins when the author dies.

• For film, television and music, the 70-year term begins when the work is released.

• The Government has estimated cost to consumers of at least $55 million a year in the long term. This has been disputed by Recorded Music New Zealand, which says the net benefit will actually be much more than $150 million a year.

- by Nicholas Jones of the New Zealand Herald

Rock n Roll Woman & Straight Man's Estate

I am more concerned with the purloining or appropriation of others' work, and yes, the free broadcasting of it. Medieval Minstrels were serfs. Artists have Estate Trusts. I have no idea how those work, but more power to Musicians. Original work is not a comestible like beer.

A bad bargain - expensive beer

Most artists will die before they benefit from a 70 year term. It is only large corporations that own copyrighted works that will benefit. Remember why the US extended its copyright term from 50 to 70 years? It was because Disney spent millions lobbying because Mickey Mouse was coming out of copyright.

Remember that unlike property there was no historical right to own intellectual property. Minstrals moved from tavern to tavern playing the latest medieval hits, APRA didn't hit them up for royalties. Copyright is a relatively new idea. Copyright for anything other than the printed word (the printing press) or printed music (Victorian times) is about 100 years old.

Copyright was created as a quid pro quo - the public allowed artists a monopoly on their expression of ideas for their life time, in exchange the artist hands it over to the public - "in the public domain" - to enjoy for the rest of eternity.

The problem here is that by extending the period to past our lifetimes artists are breaking that bargain, information in the public domain is useless to you and me if we are dead.

Of course one of the main causes for the ongoing copyright extensions during the 20th century has been the rise of corporate ownership of copyrights ... corporations can have vastly longer lifetimes than real humans. Again that bargain is unfair when faced with an opponent with an effectively infinite life. In this case the TPPA is being used by large US media conglomerates to force our government to take away our rights so that they can profit .

When I'm 64 I wont be able to go to the pub and sing along to "When I'm 64" without APRA getting their cut from it, the pub owner will up the price of beer to pay for it.

You can't eat Art

The 'consumer' is the purchaser of creative/intellectual property. We're not up to Speed on copyright, not really understanding Creative output as work under 'patent'. The performing life is a short one.

Artful dodgy

He is talking about benefits to the creator/recording company etc, the government is talking about the cost to the consumer.

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