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No matter what your blog is about or how many people read it, you will need to be aware of copyright law. This is because you must avoid infringing on others’ intellectual property rights. There are ways for you to blog using other people’s content without overstepping copyright law. Copyright law in New Zealand balances the rights of copyright owners and the interests of those, like bloggers, who wish to write about the world around them. This article is a guide to copyright law for bloggers and will explain the kinds of content you can and cannot use on your blog.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is an intellectual property right, which gives owners the right to control who uses their work. Creators of original work will receive copyright protection automatically when they put their work into material form. The creator of copyright protected work is usually the owner. 

Some categories of work that copyright protects include:

  • literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; 
  • the typographical layout of published editions; 
  • sound recordings; 
  • films; and 
  • communication works.

There is no register for copyright in New Zealand, so it can be difficult to determine what work enjoys copyright protection and the creators’ identity. If work has the © symbol attached, this likely indicates that the work enjoys copyright protection. However, owners are not obliged to use the © symbol, so do not assume that work without the © does not have copyright.

The duration of copyright protection will depend on the type of work. For example, the copyright for literary works lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 50 years.

Can I Use Copyright Protected Material?

There are circumstances where you can use copyright protected material without the permission of the owner. These include usage for:

  • research;
  • private study;
  • criticism or review; or
  • reporting current events.

For blogs, this may look like posting a book review or reporting about a new film release. If you intend to use copyright protected material under these circumstances, your use must be ‘fair’. You can determine if your use is fair by considering various factors, which include the:

  • purpose for using the material;
  • nature of the original work;
  • commercial availability of the original work;
  • effect of your usage; and
  • amount you use.

If your blog content falls into any fair use categories, you can use the copyright protected material. However, you should still consider moral rights, as explained below. Seek legal advice if you are in doubt over whether your blog falls into these categories.

Copyright Licensing 

If your blog content requires that you seek permission to use the copyright protected material, then you can obtain a copyright licence to do so. Copyright Licencing New Zealand (CLNZ) gives out these licences to individuals or businesses. It allows creators and users to both profit from copyright protected material. 

Additionally, you may want to create a licence agreement yourself. This will allow you to tailor the licence for your blog specifically and come to an agreement that suits both you and the owner. You should contact the copyright owner to do this, and seek legal advice to ensure you get your licence agreement right.

Moral Rights

Copyright gives creators both commercial rights and moral rights. Moral rights remain with the original creator of the work, even when copyright ownership changes. You should be aware of moral rights if you use someone else’s copyright protected work on your blog. 

The Right to be Attributed 

This is the right of a creator to be identified. You must credit creators whenever you use their work on your blog. This will allow creators to be known for their work no matter where it is shared.

The Right Against False Attribution

This is the right not to have your name attributed to work that is not yours. This can happen when a blogger does not know the author of the content. It is best to double-check who the actual creator of the work is, as the copyright owner may have been changed a number of times.

The Right to Object to Derogatory Treatment

This is the right of a creator to prevent derogatory treatment of their work. This right can sometimes be known as the integrity of authorship. Derogatory treatment is any act that mutates or harms the work or alters it to negatively impact the creators’ reputation.

However, it is important to note that derogatory treatment is not simply treatment of your work that you do not like. It must negatively impact your reputation.

Key Takeaways

Copyright law sets out what content you can and cannot use on your blog. In most cases, you will have to seek permission from the copyright owner to use their material. However, there are some circumstances where you do not need to seek permission. Even if the work in question falls into these circumstances, you will still have to adhere to moral rights. If you need further assistance regarding copyright and your blog, LegalVision’s experienced intellectual property lawyers can help. Call 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to get a copyright licence?

Negotiation between you and the copyright holder will determine the price of a copyright licence.

How long do moral rights last?

Most moral rights last as long as the copyright protection lasts. Copyright protection will vary in duration depending on the type of work in question.

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