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Enforcing copyright

You're responsible for monitoring the way your copyright is used, and protecting it against infringement. To make sure you get the best out of your protection, you should be prepared to communicate your legal rights and, if necessary, defend them through legal action.

If your copyright has been infringed within New Zealand, get assistance from an intellectual property (IP) attorney to take civil action on your behalf. The courts have a wide range of civil remedies available to them to compensate copyright owners for proven incidences of copyright infringement. These include:

  • interim injunctions,
  • search orders for the preservation of evidence,
  • damages or orders to account for profits and
  • ‘mandatory’ injunctions, including orders to deliver up infringing goods.

The Copyright Act 1994 also contains criminal offences for the infringement of copyright works for commercial gain. A person convicted for such activity may be imprisoned for up to five years or fined up to NZ$150,000. The New Zealand Police are able to investigate and prosecute copyright pirates.

Internationally, New Zealand is part of several agreements that establish certain international standards for copyright protection. As in New Zealand, you don’t need to register for copyright protection in these countries; however, every country and situation is different. To find out your rights, discuss your particular situation with an IP attorney. Find out more information about international copyright protection.

If you consider that your copyright work is at risk of being unlawfully copied on goods imported into New Zealand, you can lodge an IP rights notice with the New Zealand Customs Service (Customs). You or your agent may give notice in writing to Customs requesting the detention of suspected infringing goods while the goods are subject to their control (the format of the notice is provided in the Schedule of the Copyright (Border Protection) Regulations 1994). Note that Customs’ detention authority doesn’t apply to goods imported by a person for their private and domestic use.

For more information about the border protection notice procedures, including fees, see Customs' website, which includes a detailed list of IP rights notices they accept.

If you have a dispute with your licence agency or have a file sharing infringement, go to the Tribunals Unit within the Ministry of Justice to have your dispute heard by the Copyright Tribunal. There is a three-notice process for copyright owners to take enforcement action against people who infringe copyright via file sharing. Refer to our file sharing infringement guide for a simplified overview of the process.

Administrative agencies within New Zealand

Before consulting with your IP barrister or patent attorney, you might like to look at the information available on these government agency websites:

Legal advice

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) - including IPONZ and Trading Standards - is not able to provide legal advice. If you have concerns about your legal position, please contact your New Zealand barrister and solicitor or patent attorney.

Find intellectual property lawyers and patent attorneys on the:

Case law

New Zealand Copyright Tribunal Decisions are published online and can be searched using keywords and terms and by party name and year.