Monday, December 16, 2019

The end of writing

A  message from the New Zealand Society of Authors:

It is a week since NZSA, CLNZ and PANZ Chairs and CEO's attended the December 2 meeting with MBIE to express our anger and dismay at the U-Turn expressed in the MBIE Copyright Review Paper. Two weeks ago MBIE released this revised framework for the review of the Copyright Act. It was a huge departure from the tone of the Issues Paper we responded to in April. It is not part of a normal legislative review process to move the goalposts and objectives part way through a review and the new objectives align with the recommendations of Internet NZ, Google and the Tech Sector. All the engagement with the creative sector over the course of this review over the last several years appears to have been ignored.

We asked that the paper be taken down and argued it was not fit for purpose. It ignores all the work of the late 2016 Creative Sector Study with all the submissions and views from across the Creative Industries. It also cherry-picks human rights legislation, emphasising wider access while omitting all references to the right to IP ownership of writers, economic outcomes and fair payment for creative's output under Article 27.

The paper upholds among other things the notion that consumers have the right to creative content for free, that the "traditional" idea that people should pay creators for content is outdated. The document also states that "our goal is to configure those rules so that creators can derive no more income than is necessary to incentivise further creativity”.

We are fighting to protect our own New Zealand voices, industry and culture. In concert with CLNZ and PANZ we have taken advice from media strategists and people with connections and influence in government.

Our Short Term Goal that MBIE withdraw the paper, so it does not influence the Framework and outcomes of the long term Copyright Act Review.

The Long Term Goal robust, revised Copyright legislation that protects and incentivises our industry and gives appropriate compensation for existing exceptions.
We are working towards both goals.

Before Christmas 

GOAL ONE: To have MBIE withdraw the paper. We have not yet received a satisfactory response from MBIE.
The Copyright Group has prepared a two-page rebuttal of the paper, entitled: The Authors, Illustrators, Designers, Editors, and Publishers who make New Zealand’s Books Reject MBIE’s Radical Attack on the Creative Sector.

You are free to disseminate this two-pager freely.

Following last week’s letters to MBIE and other ministers, a full rebuttal was sent with letters to key ministers this week.

As a sector we have protested to Ministers Faa'foi, Robertson, Twyford and Prime Minister Adern.
We urge our members with political connections to use them. We should (all 1550 of us) write to our MPs, from our own experience, our own views, short or long. (We are advised not to send a rote letter). Again, please feel free to use the rebuttal to give weight to your arguments.

We encourage you to discuss this at branch and hub meetings and explain why the MBIE paper matters and ask members and colleagues to write to their politicians. If you know writers who are not currently members, please also pass this information on to them. Every voice counts and it's important all New Zealand writers are aware of this threat to our income and rights and join our advocacy work.

We will engage with our partners at ReadNZ, Booksellers NZ, the Coalition for Books, Photographers Association et al - and wish to mobilise everyone who is interested in the value of a New Zealand voice in books, music, films. Our work is closely aligned to WeCreate and the Music Industry in our ongoing advocacy and response.

2020 plan

Political pressure 

We will apply political pressure across all parties. It is election year 2020, so we will ask each party about their manifesto with regard to copyright and tell them what we think our creative industry needs most. NZSA has prepared a Manifesto to use to canvas political parties and we will print and distribute this in the new year.


The CLNZ/NZSA/PANZ team is employing a part-time Campaign Coordinator. We will run a communications campaign through our own networks and websites, using our collective contacts to make our case for why copyright matters and why this paper infringes upon it – and the longer-term goal of achieving robust copyright law. We will prepare content - interviews, speeches, social media, email footers, brochures, readings, authors speaking to publishers, podcasts, booksellers talking to authors, cartoons, comics. We will speak about the role of copyright and our right to a vibrant creative culture in New Zealand, at book launches, meetings and when we (as authors) accept Prime Minister Awards for Literature.

Robust copyright that underpins the creative sector is crucial for the survival of our livelihoods.

Remember our favourite Steve Jobs quote: ‘From the earliest days at Apple, I realized that we thrived when we created intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software we’d be out of business. If it weren’t protected there’d be no incentive for us to make new software or product designs. If the protection of intellectual property begins to dissipate, creative companies will disappear or never get started. But there’s a simpler reason. It’s wrong to steal. It hurts other people. And it hurts your character.’