Study of the role of copyright and designs in the creative sector

Background information on the Ministry’s study of the role of copyright and designs in the creative sector (the Study) and terms of reference.

Copyright and the Creative Sector [PDF 2.2MB]

Stage 1: Qualitative data gathering

To better understand how the copyright and designs regimes are operating in practice, we adopted a qualitative approach.

Copyright arises through the creation of an original work. Protection does not require registration, which means that there is no single source from which data about copyright can be obtained and copyright is not always front-of-mind for creators.

Talking to a range of creators, producers, distributors and users allowed us to gather a diverse range of perspectives.

Interviews: better understanding what is happening in practice

The first stage of the Study was to conduct face-to-face stakeholder interviews to gather qualitative information on the role of copyright and designs in the creative sector, including:

  1. what drives creation
  2. how the creative sector uses the copyright and designs regimes
  3. how digital technology has impacted the creative sector
  4. the opportunities and challenges facing the creative sector.

Interviews were structured around the ‘life cycle’ of a creative work ― encompassing creation, production, distribution and consumption.

We applied the following considerations to help ensure that the interviewees represented a cross-section of the sector:

  1. Different stages of the life cycle
  2. Different business models — e.g. size (from freelancers to large commercial enterprises), market focus (export or wholly domestic)
  3. Different stages of development — e.g. long-established individuals and businesses, new and emerging talent
  4. Different types of organisations — e.g. organisations that operate alongside creative sector participants, such as industry bodies and collecting societies.

We completed 71 face-to-face interviews across Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin between October 2015 and May 2016.

Workshops: testing what we heard with a wider group of sector participants

We held workshops (one in Auckland, one in Wellington) to test some of the themes and views that emerged from the interview process. We facilitated subsector-specific exercises based on what we had heard from interviewees. This allowed us to identify gaps and see what resonated with attendees. More than 100 people from a range of industries and organisations attended the workshops.

Stage 2: Online survey of the sector

Building on what we heard through the interviews and workshops, we commissioned MartinJenkins to develop a survey to gather quantitative data. The survey targeted copyright owners, licensees and creative contributors. We sought to better understand:

  • levels of awareness and understanding of copyright
  • ways people use their own and others’ copyright works, and
  • frequency and type of infringement/enforcement actions.

The survey went live for a two week period in August 2016. We distributed the survey widely and encouraged dissemination by industry bodies and economic agencies. We received 440 completed responses.

Stage 3: Online consumer focus group

The final stage was to gather views of consumers through a consumer focus group. The discussion topics were focused around how consumers access/use creative material and why.

The online forum was convened on Thursday, 1 September 2016. Participants were screened by Colmar Brunton to ensure that a range of life stages, genders, incomes and locations (from within New Zealand) were represented.

  • Colmar Brunton: Consumers’ understanding of copyright [PDF 657K] 1
    1 The views expressed in this document are not those of the Ministry and do not reflect government policy. This document is a summary of a consumer focus forum and accompanies the preliminary study of the role of copyright and registered designs in the creative sector in New Zealand. Readers should seek advice from an appropriately qualified professional before undertaking any action in reliance on the contents of this document. The Crown does not accept any responsibility whether in contract, tort, equity or otherwise for any action taken, or reliance placed on, any part, or all, of the information in this document, or for any error or omission in this document.

Terms of Reference

Why is MBIE doing this study?

The Building Innovation work stream of the government’s Business Growth Agenda includes a number of measures aimed at ensuring the New Zealand economy makes the most of innovation. Within this work stream, the government is taking steps to ensure regulation supports the development of new and innovative products and services.

MBIE’s objective in undertaking the creative sector study is to deepen our understanding of the role of copyright and registered designs in the creative sector.

Updated information is needed because rapidly evolving technologies are continuing to generate new opportunities and challenges in the creative sector.

The study will examine the impact of the internet on how creative works are created, produced and disseminated, the contractual rules that govern their dissemination and use, and the creative industries’ potential to contribute to growth of the digital economy.

What is the scope of the “creative sector”?

The study will follow the “life cycle” of the creative work. It will focus on those who are creating, producing, disseminating and/or commercialising works protected by copyright and designs, including those involved in the following subsectors:

  • Music
  • Film and television production
  • Gaming
  • Software
  • Written content and print
  • Product design and architecture (including fashion and industrial design)
  • Other visual content (including visual and performing arts, photography and advertising).

What will the study produce?

The study will result in:

  • a series of reports covering the different subsectors. Each report will include a narrative about how the subsector uses the copyright and designs regime to create, produce and disseminate creative works
  • identification of current and possible future trends relating to how creative works are created, produced, disseminated, shared, protected and commercialised
  • identification of potential copyright or design issues that may need future consideration by policy makers.

Where do consumers and users of content fit in?

The views of consumers will inform the study. Consumers, as the end users of creative works, are an important part of the life cycle of a work. MBIE intends that the information in the study be used by all members of the public to facilitate more effective participation in any future reform process.

Which agencies are involved?

The study will be led by MBIE Intellectual Property policy in consultation with representatives from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and MBIE Communications policy.

When and how will the study occur?

MBIE will commence the study in October 2015. This will involve targeted face to face interviews with sector participants along with wider sector research. We intend to test the themes that emerge with a range of creative sector participants and consumers. Reports will be finalised and published in late 2016.

Links to other Government work programmes

The Government is taking a holistic view of the impacts of regulation affecting the digital economy. We need to ensure that different regulatory systems, such as intellectual property and communications regulation, work together to promote economic growth in the digital economy. The study is one of a suite of policy processes that the Government is pursuing in this space. It shares themes with the work on convergence being led by the Minister for Communications.

Download the Terms of Reference [PDF 164KB]

More information on the cross-departmental covergence work programme can be found at the Convergence Programme website.

For more information on the Creative Sector Study, please contact us at