New Zealand's Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court's decision to reverse the ban placed on Darren Watson's song, Planet Key , and its accompanying animated video by Jeremy Jones, which were released during New Zealand's 2014 general election
and seen as political advertising rather than a parody on Prime Minister John Key.
The artists are happy with the outcome, but also frustrated with the two-year fight, which included them being threatened with referral to the police. The two men said in a statement:
There is also a sense of frustration at this point, as while the judgment vindicates the men's actions in 2014, it cannot reverse the fact that the Commission's actions prevented their works from being broadcast at the time they were most relevant.
Ultimately though, they are hopeful that the decision might mean that other artists seeking to express their political views will receive more liberal treatment than they did, or even that the outcome might compel much-needed reform of the electoral law.
The Court of Appeal said the two men were simply expressing their own political views and not representing a political party.
The country's Electoral Commission told Watson in 2014 to stop selling or promoting the song as they viewed it as promotional political material. Watson took down the song and took the commission to court.
In April 2015 the High Court ruled against the commission's ban. Justice Denis Clifford said that such a ban would impose limits on the right of freedom of expression of the plaintiffs and New Zealand citizens more generally in a manner which, in my
view, cannot be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society .
The commission appealed the decision but the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court's decision. The court told the commission it should be more rights-sensitive in its judgment and ordered it to pay Watson's costs.