Who owns John Key’s history?

The current Prime Minister of New Zealand is John Key , he’s a nice (well most people say so) guy who leads the right-of-centre National Party in parliament.

As a 21st century politician he has staff members who look after a twitter feed , he has a video blog on youtube and photos from his activities go on flickr.

The problem is that the copyright of images and videos of John key taken in the course of his official duties don’t appear to belong to the country or even be released into the public domain but are in fact claimed by The National Party.

Presumably this claim comes about because the persons recording the material are politically appointed staffers (although the salary is paid for by the New Zealand taxpayer) and they in turn have given their copyright to the National party (hopefully this is a formal arrangement and not some ah-hoc thing).

The problem is that while some photos and other material are posted to flickr under a restrictive license (which I’ll admit is more than previous PMs appear to have done) ownership and control of the material resides with a political party rather than the public.

So while the Whitehouse flickr stream allows photographs to be downloaded, reprinted and used in websites and media a photograph of John Key meeting the US Agriculture Secretary is locked down to Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works . Even worse attempts to contact the National Party Flickr person and ask if specific photos can be used have been universally rejected.

So my big questions are:

  1. What are photos of the Prime Minister performing his official duties, taken by staff members owned by a political party rather than the government (or the people)
  2. Why is used of the photos so harshly restricted?
  3. How does it help promote New Zealand and New Zealand culture when photographs of our politicians can’t be used or reproduced by sites such as wikipedia?
  4. What happens in 50 years when future historians want photographs of our politicians and they don’t exist or the ownership is unclear since they were not correctly transferred to the National party (if it still exists) by the original photographer or got lost at some point?

But really all I’m after is for the photographs to be released under a more liberal license much like the photographs from the Whitehouse. As a New Zealander I really shouldn’t have to wait till a New Zealand politician meets the US president before a free photograph of him is released and our PM’s wikipedia article doesn’t have him wearing a Green Tie.