The New Zealand Government yesterday announced it will introduce legislation to ban parallel import of video.

The move will prevent films, videos and DVDs from being imported by retailers or persons other than the authorised distributor within nine months of its worldwide release. The policy will not affect private or domestic use.

Commerce minister Paul Swain and associate minister for arts, culture and heritage Judith Tizard said the ban on parallel importing would give "the

film distribution industry a period of protection to allow for the orderly

release of films, videos and DVDs". But they also acknowledged provincial

cinemas will cheer loudest - given their battering by retailers' actions

and the failure of the DVD zoning system.

"The announcement is good news for cinemas in provincial cities and country towns and removes a major threat to their viability," said NZ Motion

Picture Exhibitors Association spokesperson Mark Christensen. "Not only

should these communities now be able to continue seeing movies on the big

screen at the same time as the major cities, but several cinema development

projects outside the main cities that have been on hold pending

clarification of the policy should now be able to proceed."

Some distributors have kept supplying new prints to rural cinemas,

despite it being uneconomic, but others have progressively reduced new

prints numbers. Distributors have assured Christensen supplies will be

maintained outside the main cities while the policy becomes law.

The decision flows from a wider review about whether a parallel importing ban on music recordings, books and software products would encourage an increase in international investment in and overseas promotion of NZ creative talent. It was found such bans would not.

As part of a tougher stand on piracy, the Government has also said it will start presuming that suspected imported goods are pirated, unless the

defendant proves otherwise. "We realise there will be human rights issues

needing careful consideration, however, we are recognising the rights of

intellectual property owners to protect their income from cheaper

counterfeit and pirated goods," said Swain and Tizard's statement.