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Title: Copywrongs? Credit: Craig Young Comment Friday 4th November 2005 - 12:00pm1131058800 Article: 991 Rights
 
With the Maxim Institute's source attribution scandals rebounding around the media and blogdom at present, why is copyright such an important issue for journalists and academic researchers? I should stress that the below commentary is a hypothetical look at what the current legal situation is, and I'm not making any reference to particular individuals or organisations. I got an A in communication law at Massey University thirteen years ago, but I'm not a qualified lawyer, so don't take this as infallible legal advice. According to John Burrows and Ursula Cheer, Section 16 of the Copyright Act 1994 (New Zealand) means that the original creators and/or current license holders of particular works have sole right to copy works, issue copies to the public, or broadcast and adapt their original work. It cannot be copied, published or broadcast without their authorisation. Since 1892, Commonwealth law has held that this applies to newspaper articles. It is held in New Zealand law that this includes lifting parts of others work and incorporating them into work that is allegedly one's own, especially if the original work is the product of diligent research and hard labour. If copies are distributed, then that's even worse, according to Section 16 (1)(b) of the Copyright Act 1994. What damages might ensue? If someone is found to have breached copyright, monetary penalties may be equivalent to the sum that the plaintiff might have charged if the defendant had sought permission as required by law. Exemplary damages may apply if the defendant profited from a deliberate and calculated act of copyright violation. As well as New Zealand's own copyright legislation, copyright is protected through our membership of two international copyright conventions, the Berne Convention (1886, revised 1979) and Universal Copyright Convention (1952; New Zealand ascension, 1964). In journalism or academic work, academic supervisors and editorial staff need to insure that their journalists or thesis writers do not violate prior copyright. However, newspaper offices have suffered staffing cutbacks due to circulation declines, including sub-editorials. Nevertheless, one expects editorial staff to carry out their responsibilities objectively, competently and without bias, and not let offending work through the editorial process. Journalists and academic researchers have a legal and professional obligation not to violate copyright. One also expects lobby group legal staff to tell employed researchers about New Zealand copyright legislation. If I were the Institute, I'd take a good, hard look at their organisation's inner workings and policies. Highly Recommended: John Burrows and Ursula Cheer: Media Law in New Zealand: Auckland: Oxford University Press: 2005. John Burrows: Law for Journalists: Wellington: Journalist Training Organisation: 2000. Websites: http://www.maxim.org.nz Maxim Institute http://www.nzarh.org.nz New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists/Fundy Post. Craig Young - 4th November 2005    
 
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