Ignore copyright and you’ll end up in court

(Last Updated On: March 3, 2014)

Are you illegally using copyright material? How would you know? What could happen? NZFACT’s Tony Eaton talks to us about the perils of piracy and how teachers can help.

Can you start by explaining what is copyright?
It applies to work that has been created and is then protected by law against being exploited by others, so the person who has done the work has rights over it.

Why is it an issue for teachers?
More and more, we’re finding teachers are bringing in pirated movies for students to watch. That’s not allowed. I’ve formally advised the Ministry of Education that we will start taking civil and criminal action against offenders if these actions continue. [See advice below].
At this moment in time, what we’re doing is confirming the complaint against a teacher, we then notify the Ministry, the principal is advised, and then action is taken as warranted. If teachers are unsure of what they’re doing, I have no issue traveling anywhere in the country to talk about movie piracy, intellectual property, and what they can and can’t do.

What about an older movie? Is that okay?
The new Copyright and New Technologies Bill is bringing in new guidelines that outline how teachers can use copyright material properly and legally. Essentially, as long as the movie relates to the subject students are learning, the teacher stays in the class the whole time, the copy’s legal … and they’re not charging for it, they’re okay. But if a teachers brings in Shrek 3 for a history class learning about WWII, that’s not allowed.

Can you tell us a little about NZFact?
The New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZFACT) was established in 2005 by the Motion Picture Association to protect the film industry from the adverse impact of copyright theft. We oversee the commercial lobbying, enforcement and education for the six major studios: Walt Disney, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. Our website provides information about motion picture piracy, what copyright is and why it’s important (

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
We deal with education, promoting fair copyright, as well as commercial lobbying of laws currently before Parliament.

Do you get involved with the court issues?
Very much so. We have 12 investigators throughout the country and a director of operations who oversees all our criminal investigations and prepares and lays any formal complaints with the police. We can even assist on the search warrant and provide the back-up evidence in court.

Is one of the factors actually making a commercial gain out of breaking at copyright – rather than just copying for personal use?
Each case is taken on its merits as regards to copyright. Some people are earning $40,000 to $150,000 per year by way of selling pirated products. They’re definitely the ones we’re targeting. But don’t get me wrong here, we’ll also look at the mums and dads. The line’s drawn in the sand. There are no more warnings. People know that copyright is here. We’re at the point now that everyone needs to be responsible for their actions.

How can teachers help?
For us, they’re the most important way to get our message out. Teachers are our gateway to the children. Those still at school are the main group who download illegal movies and songs. The kids of today are the ones we’re targeting. Teachers need to be resourced and we are working with the Ministry of Education on this. There’s information on our website or I am more than happy to take a phone call from anyone wanting to know more.

Do you have any materials teachers can use?
We’re currently doing an animated comic book, talking about IP protection and respecting copyright. We have a file sharing brochure that we’re distributing with the assistance of NetSafe – 75,000 copies around New Zealand. We’re also in consultation with the New Zealand Libraries to translate it into Te Reo M?ori. And we’ll be doing another anti-piracy poster campaign (check our website for details).

If you could give teachers one message, what would it be?
Respect copyright. Respect creativity. The students they’re teaching today, in 10 years’ time, they could be in the same position and having their work stolen. New Zealand has a 25 per cent level of movie piracy – that’s how much of all revenue it’s costing, or about $70 million a year. If that continues, there won’t be the resources going back into the films. Sione’s Wedding was pirated. I understand the writer, even though he’s three-quarters of the way through the sequel, won’t be finishing it due to what happened. So, I urge teachers to respect creativity because the students that they’re teaching today or tomorrow, their work could be what’s being stolen down the track.

What’s your background?
I come from a policing background. It was an extremely interesting job. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone. But my time had come and this was a new opportunity.

Does that experience help?
Yes, it does. I know what the police require. We can pretty much present a case to them fully completed. All they have to do is file a search warrant application and we provide back up resources.

Finally, what are your thoughts for copyright over the next 12 to 24 months?
I think there’s been a big commitment by both major political parties that broadband is going to increase – speeds approaching 20 Megabits per second. That’s going to cause us some concerns for downloading from the Internet and it’s an area we’ll be targeting
more heavily.
But I certainly think that education is the key for us. It keeps coming back to the education message, that people respect creativity – and hopefully we’ll be able to achieve this with the assistance of teachers.


The Copyright Act 1994 –
The Ministry of Economic Development –
Copyright Council of New Zealand –


Screening movies for educational purposes
NZFACT’s Executive Director Tony Eaton explains what teachers can and cannot do:

“Movies are often used by teachers as valuable curriculum resources to engage students and support learning. The Copyright Act provides a number of exceptions that allow schools to use films and other copyrighted works for educational purposes. These allow teachers to:

• Screen an entire movie, if it’s being used for educational purposes as part of a curriculum-related learning activity, and the screening is supervised throughout by a teacher;
• Screen clips or parts of movies in the same circumstances.

Even if your school has the appropriate licence, however, it does not cover unlimited use. Teachers are not allowed to show either whole movies or parts of them in order to entertain students – for example during a wet lunchtime.

Between 5 and 18 December 2007, eight separate complaints were received from members of the public about recently-released and on one occasion pre-released movies being screened to entertain students in the classroom.

Schools must comply with copyright law as they must with any other law. Copyright law in New Zealand is controlled largely by the Copyright Act 1994.
Use of copyright works without permission (infringement) may enable the copyright owner to sue the school board. In certain cases, unauthorised use can also give rise to prosecution. The penalties for such offences can be as high as $10,000 per offence.

If teachers want to show movies to students for entertainment purposes or to a wider audience (including parents, guardians and the general public), your school will need to obtain specific authority from the copyright owner either directly or through the relevant licensing body.

Permission may be granted subject to a licensing arrangement or other specific conditions. You may or may not have to pay to use copyright material.”

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