NZ copyright status flowchart (photographs) - tell us what you think!

UPDATED 7 April 2009: Thanks for all the wonderful feedback, and time taken to review. We have updated the flowchart based on your comments.

Download the updated flowchart for determining the NZ copyright status of photographs (NZ copyright flowchart in RTF, 324 KB) (NZ copyright flowchart in PDF, 62 KB)


DigitalNZ is proud to make available the first version of a tool for determining the New Zealand copyright status of photographs for you to use and comment on.

Download the flowchart for determining the NZ copyright status of photographs (RTF, 149 KB) (PDF, 120 KB)

Why provide the NZ copyright status flowchart?

One of the problems we find that our content providers face is determining the copyright status of items. If you can’t determine the copyright status of your content, you can’t even start to think about applying New Zealand Creative Commons licences or other statements.

The tool we’ve developed is intended to meet ‘80%’ or thereabouts of situations, rather than trying to provide a decision tree for every possible scenario (e.g. rights of joint photographers). These are things you need to take note of though.

Who’s the NZ copyright status flowchart for?

We think it will be useful to you if you are:

  • Working with photograph collections that you want to make available online
  • Trying to work out what the copyright status of a photograph you find online might be, if it’s not already identified.

Breaking it down by format is a great way to tackle some of the complexity in this area, so we've begun with photographs to prove the concept. If this one proves useful, we’ll extend this into a series.

Has a lawyer looked at the NZ copyright status flowchart?

Yes, and then some. We’ve worked with a number of experts and lawyers to ensure that this flowchart is a useful tool for determining the copyright status of photographs.

That said, this flowchart is of a generalised nature, for information only. As the disclaimer states, it doesn’t constitute professional advice and DigitalNZ is not responsible for any loss caused as a result of using it. You should seek professional advice from a suitably qualified professional about specific issues. Don't let that put you off using it though!

What do you think about the NZ copyright status flowchart?

Please take a look at the flowchart, try it out, show it to other people, and let us know what you think. Anything you’d like more discussion on, just let us know in the comments.

We’d also be interested to know whether anyone out there has similar tools hiding in their back rooms? We’re happy to publish them here if you’d like to share – though we can’t verify their usefulness like we have for this one.

This isn’t the end for us. We’ve got plans! From making it look nice (OK, a bit of a nice to have), through to making it an online interactive.

But for now we just want you to know we’ve taken the unglamorous approach, and can’t wait to hear from you. So, what do you reckon?

Download the flowchart for determining the NZ copyright status of photographs (RTF, 149 KB) (PDF, 120 KB)

Useful links

Information about copyright - Ministry of Economic Development website

New Zealand Copyright Act 1994

Copyright Act 1962

Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand

Rights and permissions help - Kete Digital New Zealand


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The link to the Make it Digital re-use guide is now:

--Ting • 2012-08-13 00:00:00 UTC