TPPA Facts

Copyright & IP

The TPPA commits the New Zealand government to shared rules on expressing, accessing, and commercialising ideas. These rules govern commercial and cultural interactions, affecting us as creators, consumers, and citizens. This factsheet focuses on rules for “information, innovation and intellectual property" which are concentrated in TPPA chapters 13 (Telecommunications), 14 (Electronic Commerce), and 18 (Intellectual Property).


➜ Support for open data flows and competition in the telecommunications market.

➜ An exception in recognising exclusive rights for plant breeds because of the significance of indigenous plants to Māori (though this exception cannot be guaranteed).


➜ The copyright term extension will cost the consumer at least $55 million a year.

➜ As a result of this there will be adverse impacts on students, educators, and libraries.


(at least $55 million a year)

"We will pay more over time to access music and movies. We will also pay more over time for books and educational resources, making it more expensive for us to learn and to do business." - Andrew Cushen, Internet New Zealand

The TPPA’s most important changes for information, innovation, and intellectual property are:

➜ Copyright term extensions, which involve an estimated financial cost of at least $500 million (net present value), and which burden our students, educators, and libraries;

➜ Criminal liability for breaking “digital locks” on content, meaning that doing the wrong thing with an ebook, an iTunes song, or a NetFlix video you have paid for could make you liable in criminal law. This threatens the freedom to tinker and learn.

➜ Grace periods for patent applications, meaning a patent application could be filed after an inventor has made the invention public and still result in a granted patent.


The TPPA requires copyright term extensions in New Zealand. This benefits owners of relatively old copyright works, mostly based overseas, at the cost of New Zealand consumers and businesses. New Zealand musicians, authors, film-makers and artists will benefit from the longer copyright term, though these benefits will be modest.


The education sector is a large user and creator of copyright content. As one example, the University of Auckland generates over $1bn in revenue, but spends in excess of $17 million to access copyright content. This content is provided largely by European and U.S. publishers and aggregators in digital form, with licences allowing copying for teaching purposes. An extended copyright term means content aggregators and reproduction rights organisations can demand an increase in fees: the usage paid for is now extended by 20 years. This is a large export of funds, costing universities and ultimately taxpayers. Universities are financially constrained. Paying licence fees for a longer duration will in practice mean reduced academic library collections, and poorer access to materials for researchers and students. This is a barrier to world-leading academic work, and training of skilled graduates. To that extent, copyright extension is a small, but significant drag on the skills of New Zealanders.

Source: 'Information, Innovation and Intellectual Property under TPPA' by James Ting-Edwards of Internet New Zealand

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A Technical Protection Measure (TPM) bars unintended modes of access to copyright works – it is in effect a “digital lock”. Rules protecting TPMs create a “para-copyright”: a legal right which sits alongside copyright, but which operates independent of intent or infringement.

TPPA rules in Article 18.68 require legal liability for anyone who supplies devices or services for breaking TPMs, or who “knowingly circumvents” a TPM.

Locked up for breaking digital locks?