Parallel Importing Legislation Introduced into Parliament
Legislation introduced to the House today by Associate Minister of Commerce Judith Tizard meets a commitment made by the
Labour-led government in 1999 to address the effects of parallel importing and copyright piracy on the creative
The Copyright (Parallel Importation of Films and Onus of Proof) Amendment Bill 2002 will:
prohibit the parallel importation of motion picture films, including DVDs, VHS videos and video CDs, for a period of
nine months from a title’s first international release. The ban will be implemented for a period of five years from the
date of commencement of the Bill; reverse one aspect of the onus of proof so that the burden of proof is on the
defendant to rebut the presumption that an imported work is an infringing copy; introduce an objective knowledge
requirement that requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant “knows or ought reasonably to know” that the
imported work is an infringing copy; protect legitimate parallel importers by providing that the Court must not require
the defendant to disclose information on sources of supply where it appears to the Court that it would be unreasonable
to do so; and clarify existing provisions relating to rental rights where copyright works are parallel imported.
"This Bill meets a commitment made by the Labour-led government in 1999. It follows a very extensive review and
consultation process which considered the impact of parallel importing on the creative industries," said Judith Tizard,
also Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
"The ban is intended to prevent the parallel importation of films for commercial purposes – that is, importation for the
purposes of showing to the public, sale or rental. This will give the film distribution industry a period of protection
to allow for the orderly release of films, videos and DVDs.”
Judith Tizard said the ban will mean that retailers or alternative suppliers will not be able to legally import copies
of a motion picture title without the permission of the local copyright holder or authorised distributor for a period of
nine months after its first release anywhere in the world.
“The ban does not prohibit importation for a person’s private or domestic use. Private individuals who wish to import a
copy of a film for their own use, ahead of the New Zealand theatrical release, will still be able to do so.”
Judith Tizard said the Bill also contains measures to address both domestic and international concerns over copyright
“The changes to the onus of proof are targeted at those works that are most vulnerable to piracy, namely films, computer
programs and sound recordings.”
Judith Tizard said the government intends to keep the effects of parallel importing on the creative industries under
review over a three-year period.
Background Information on Parallel Importing
- Media Statement from Hon Paul Swain, Minister of Commerce and Hon Judith Tizard, Associate Minister of Arts Culture
and Heritage (13 December 2001) http://www.med.govt.nz/buslt/int_prop/creatdisc/index.html
- discussion paper released by the Ministry of Economic Development (December 2000) http://www.med.govt.nz/buslt/int_prop/creative/index.html
- discussion paper released by the Ministry of Economic Development (March 2000)