The haka: a song and dance about attribution?

Fortunately for the All-Blacks they are allowed to continue to perform the haka Ka Mate.  This
is not such good news for Merpel, who had hoped they'd do this funky Kat Dance instead ...
Hands up if you've watched a Rugby Union match featuring the New Zealand All Blacks (this manual gesture may be toned down or otherwise modified if you work in an open plan office and your superiors are watching ...). Now, keep them up if you paid attention to the traditional dance performed by the New Zealand players before the match ...

For those readers who have not been privileged to keep their hands up in the air, the traditional dance performed by the All Blacks is a haka -- a traditional ancestral war cry or challenge by the Māori people in New Zealand, collectively performed though a display of vigorous hand movements, foot-stamping and aggressive chanting. The haka performed by the All Blacks is the 'Ka Mate'. This was composed by Te Rauparaha (c.1760 to 27 November 1849), a war leader of the Ngāti Toa tribe of the North Island, as a celebration of life over death after his lucky escape from his enemies.

So, apart from revealing her love of antipodean sport and/or choreographed performances, why is this Kat telling you about hakas? 

As readers may be aware, copyright has expired in the words of Te Rauparaha (illustrated, left). However, over the summer there was an interesting development in relation to the moral right of attribution for Te Rauparaha as author of his haka. On 30 August 2012, the Ngāti Toa tribe and the New Zealand government initialled a Deed of Settlement which proposed that, in certain circumstances, the use of haka Ka Mate must clearly and reasonably prominently identify Te Rauparaha as both the composer of Ka Mate and as a chief of the Ngāti Toa tribe.

Unfortunately, this Kat has not been able to get her paws on the Deed of Settlement, which the Office of Treaty Settlements promises to be available here. However, from the helpful discussions of local law firms Simpson Grierson and Baldwins, she understands that attribution is required for
  1. publishing haka Ka Mate for commercial purposes (such as for advertisements featuring the haka Ka Mate, but this would exclude official sponsor advertisements featuring the All Blacks performing the haka Ka Mate) 
  2. communicating haka Ka Mate online 
  3. the public showing of any film which contains the haka Ka Mate.
She further understands that attribution is not required for
  1. public performances of the haka Ka Mate (thus performances by sporting teams such as the All Blacks will not be affected, but attribution will be required if that performance is broadcast commercially) 
  2. use of the haka Ka Mate for educational purposes 
  3. use of the haka Ka Mate for the purposes of criticism, review or reporting the news. 
It is intended that the Ngāti Toa tribe will be able to enforce the new right of attribution by obtaining a declaratory order from the court. At this stage, it is not envisaged that the Ngāti Toa tribe will recover damages for failure to attribute. Further, the the Ngāti Toa tribe may not claim royalties or compensation for use of the haka Ka Mate. Accordingly, the consequences of a failure to properly attribute Te Rauparaha are likely to be in terms of any costs award sought by the Ngāti Toa tribe to obtain a court-ordered declaration -- and negative publicity for the organisation involved.

Says the IPKat, the prospect of rights of attribution being extended to authors of works long out of copyright is most appealing.  He wonders whether the time has come for a public inquiry into one of the greatest attribution mysteries of the past millennium: who really wrote the works that were credited to William Shakespeare?

Merpel is just mesmerised by the words "haka Ka Mate", which are an anagram of "Make a Kat -- Ha!"
The haka: a song and dance about attribution? The haka: a song and dance about attribution? Reviewed by Catherine Lee on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. One of the positive things about the Common Law was a constant thread of principle that was against the dead being able to influence, perpetually, the world after their death. You might decide what happened to your estate after you died, but only up to a point.

    For example, if you wanted to leave a bequest for statues of your family to be erected around Scotland your gift would fail _otherwise_ Scotland would end up being full of statues of those wealthy in the past.

    Similarly, Ecclesiastical law intends that monuments fade slowly away - which is why granite tombstones are discouraged. Again, the idea is that the past should not influence the future - lest we end up living in a museum.

    So the problem with this kind of perpetual moral right is that all things with infinite lives will simply clog up the world. It might take a long time, but it will happen with certainty unless there is a way to kill them off. Do we want, in a century or two's time, to be that circumscribed? I am not sure we do.


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