Duration of copyright

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Duration of copyright

Copyright doesn't last forever. The time limit provided by copyright protection in New Zealand depends on the category of copyright work involved and when it was either created, published, performed and, in the case of product designs, commercialised.

Each category of copyright work has a different time limit within which copyright applies. This time limit is dated from a specific point in the lifespan of that work or its author.

Literary works

50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

Examples include text including emails, training manuals, novels, song lyrics, tables and compilations including multimedia works and computer programs.

Dramatic works

50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

Examples include dance, mime, film scenarios or scripts.

Musical works

50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

Examples include score and sheet music.

Artistic works

50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

Examples include paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, models, photographs, sculptures.

Sound recording and film

50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made or made available to the public, whichever is later.

Examples include film sound tracks separate to the actual music or story.

Communication works

50 years from the end of the calendar year of the first broadcast or transmission.

Examples include satellite television broadcasts and podcasts and includes repeats.

Product designs and casting moulds

16 years from the time the work is industrially applied.

Examples include injection moulds and their mass produced products.

Works of craftsmanship

25 years from the time the work is industrially applied.

Examples include chairs with hand applied decoration.

This quick reference guide doesn't list all time limits, and time limits are subject to legislative changes. For more information, please visit the following pages: