The Copyright Symbol In New Zealand


What Is The Copyright Symbol?

In New Zealand, you automatically get copyright protection when you create original work. Including a copyright statement and the © symbol on your work will let others know that your work is original and, therefore, subject to copyright protection. It is best practice to use the © symbol, followed by your name and the first year of publication.


Do Copyright Laws Protect Your Ideas?

New Zealand copyright laws, such as the Copyright Act, do not protect your ideas. Instead, you receive exclusive rights over the expression of your idea or written work, regardless of whether it has been published. For example, if you discuss a concept for a blog with someone else, your ideas will not receive protection until you start writing your blog. If your text is original, you receive automatic copyright protection as a literary work, for 50 years (from the time you die).

Names, titles, single words, and headlines are usually too small or unoriginal to be protected by copyright. However, you can protect your business name and other brand assets by registering a trademark with IPONZ.


How Long Does Copyright Last?

Under New Zealand copyright laws, you gain exclusive rights over your work for a temporary period. The period will depend on the type of creative work or material. For example:

  • Literary, musical, dramatic, and artistic works are protected for 50 years from the (end of the calendar) year in which you die;
  • Sound recordings and films are protected for 50 years from the year in which you produce the work or make it publicly available (whichever one is the longest);
  • Communication works are protected for 50 years from the year in which you first communicate it to the public; and
  • Typographical arrangements of public editions are protected for 25 years from the (first) year of publication.

You can find out more information on the IPONZ or MBIE websites.


Can You Licence Or Assign Your Copyright To Others?

In New Zealand, there are multiple ways in which you can grant permission to others to use your work. These include:

  • Copyright Licences; and
  • Creative Common (CC) licenses.

You may want to allow others to use your work for particular purposes in exchange for a licence fee or royalty. In this case, you can appoint a licensing agency (collective agency or society) to licence your rights under a collective licence. This agreement sets the terms and conditions under which others can use your work. The licensing agency will monitor how users or subscribers use your work and collect licence fees on your behalf. The IPONZ website lists several organisations in New Zealand and Australasian that have the authorisation to grant copyright licences.

If you want to allow others to use your work for limited purposes without receiving payment or royalties, you can use a CC licence. There are six different types of CC licences. The licences are identifiable by one or more icons and acronyms that tell the users of your work how to acknowledge your rights and how they can use your work, including any limitations.

If you hold a CC licence, you should also use the copyright symbol to let others know:

  • who is the owner of the work; and
  • when the work was first created or published.

There are some instances in which you can ask others to assign their copyright to you. For example, if you outsource the design or development of your website to a freelancer or agency, but you want to hold the copyright over it. You can ask the author to assign their rights to you by signing a Website Design and Development Agreement.


Disclaimer: The content of this article is intended for general information only and issued to readers as a guide and for their private information. Nick Hoogeveen & Associates website articles do not constitute advice and readers should not act solely on the basis of the material contained within this article. Also, changes in legislation may occur quickly. We, therefore, recommend that our formal advice be sought before acting in any of these areas.