Finding copyright owners

Finding copyright owners

If you wish to use a copyright work, you will need to contact the owner and request permission to use it.

The first place to look is on the material you want to use. For example imprint pages on books (at the beginning of the printed work), on CD/DVD packaging, the copyright notice at the end of a film or TV credits.

If a work has been published (for example, a story, article or illustration in a book or journal), contact the publisher in the first instance. Even if the publisher doesn't own the copyright, they can usually tell you who you need to contact.

Licensing agencies are often a good source of information. If they can’t help, they may be able to assist you in locating the appropriate person.

Copyright material on websites is generally protected. Information about copyright policies can usually be found in the Terms of Use or Copyright section of the website. As well as naming the copyright owner, websites often provide a contact address to which you can send your permission request.

Professional associations of copyright creators or owners may also be a useful source of information.

When trying to find a copyright owner, it's important to remember that:

  • The owner of a physical item is not necessarily the copyright owner. For example, a museum may own a work of art in its collection but not the copyright in it.
  • The creator of the copyright work may not always be the copyright owner. For example, the creator may have created the work during his or her employment, or may have assigned (transferred) copyright to another person.
  • There may be more than one copyright owner. For example, copyright might be jointly owned by two or more people, or there may be more than one copyright in a single work, each separately owned. You may need permission to copy one work from several copyright owners.
  • If the creator of a work has died, or a corporate copyright owner has gone out of business, this does not necessarily mean that copyright has expired. Intestacy law, or the will of a deceased person, may determine who inherited copyright owned by the person when they died. If a company goes into liquidation, generally the liquidator takes over the company’s assets (including any copyright).

Organisations that can help you identify a copyright owner

The following is a list of useful organisations who may be able to help you identify and locate a copyright owner to request permission to use a work. In some cases (where indicated), the organisation may be authorised to provide certain licences on behalf of copyright owners.

Printed material (books, journals, dramatic works)

Music and sound recordings

  • Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) – Represents songwriters and music publishers in providing licences to broadcast and publicly perform music in public (such as in shops, restaurants and other businesses) in New Zealand and Australia.
  • Recorded Music NZ – Represents the interests of recording labels and recording artists, including licensing to broadcast and publically perform sound and video recordings in New Zealand.
  • OneMusic - A joint initiative between APRA and Recorded Music NZ (previously PPNZ Music Licensing), offering a single music licence to businesses and organisations using music in public.
  • Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) – (Administered by APRA) Provides licences for the reproduction of copyright music in New Zealand and Australia.
  • Independent Music New Zealand (IMNZ) – A trade organisation set up to provide a voice for the interests of New Zealand-owned independent recording labels and distributors.
  • Christian Copyright Licensing International – Provides licences for reproduction of Christian music.

Visual art and photographs

Films, TV programmes, DVDs and videos

Performing plays

  • Playmarket – Provides licences for the performance of New Zealand plays.