9 Oct 2015

South Pacific Pictures' John Barnett defends copyright extension in TPP

10:36 am on 9 October 2015

The chairman of the film and television production company South Pacific Pictures is refuting suggestions that the extension to copyright under the Trans-Pacific Partnership will stifle creativity.

130514. Photo TVNZ. Screengrab from TV series Shortland Street.

John Barnett was one of the original executive producers of Shortland Street Photo: TVNZ

Under the deal, copyright protection of films, books and music will be extended from 50 years to 70 years.

The Government said the extension will cost consumers about $55 million a year.

Internet New Zealand said the change would also mean artists will have less raw material to work with if they want to reinterpret past works.

But John Barnett of South Pacific Pictures said there were few books, films or television programmes where the original material was reused for another work.

"It might be true in the music industry but it is not true of all music. It is true of a particular genre of music. So I think that they getting a bit emotional to try and make the point, but they've got no facts to prove that at all."

Mr Barnett, who has produced television programmes and films such as Shortland Street, Sione's Wedding and Whale Rider, said extending the copyright would benefit actors and writers.

"For instance, any of the productions that we make, the writers, the directors, the actors, are all participants in the pool, so as long as that money keeps coming in they will continue to receive something.

"I thought a little bit about it because it suddenly struck me that pictures I'd made like Beyond Reasonable Doubt is 35 years old already and Footrot Flats is 30 years old, and that continues to entertain people all over the world, and we receive money from it all the time and so does Dave Dobbyn, and so do the animation creators and the writers and all those people receive money from it.

"So suddenly it seemed to me that why should this stop in 20 years time? If you have a family farm and you pass it on through generations and you are long dead your family continues to get the benefits of the exploitation of the land.

"When it comes to physical items we have no difficulty whatsoever in seeing that they continue to return a rent but these are intangibles and somebody thinks they're free because you can't touch them they should just be available to everybody."

Mr Barnett said he did not agree with Internet New Zealand that big overseas companies like Disney would benefit most from the extension.