Copyright in South Africa

Copyright in South Africa

Copyright Law in South Africa

Copyright in South Africa are government by the Copyright Act of 1978 and its amendments.

CIPRO and DTI oversee copyright in the country. As a member of the Berne Convention and TRIPS Agreement, copyright works protected in South Africa are also protected in other member states of the above.

Automatic Assignment of Rights

One doesn’t have to register copyright on a work for it to be protected. It is automatically assigned the moment an original creative work takes a tangible form.

Copyright apply to works that have some form of creativity embedded. As such a mere list of facts or data cannot be copyright protected. A grocery list for instance, is not a creative act and thus cannot be protected.

Works Protected

Copyright apply to computer programs, literary works, broadcasts, cinematographic films, artistic expressions such as music, photography, painting, drawing, and sculpting related works, and architectural works, as well as published editions and sound recordings.

With cinematograph films registration is required as such are complex works embedding several other creative works.

Usage Rights

Infringement of copyright can take place when a party copies, uses, sells, rents out, imports or disposes, stores and makes available copyright protected works in a manner not authorised by the copyright holder.

One can get usage and selling rights on a work through a license agreement. It is important to note that such rights can range from master reseller to mere usage rights. Royalties are paid to the copyright holder for such usage.

Copyright normally have lifespans of 50 years from a specific date and differ according to the work in question. In terms of for instance, a literary work, the duration is 50 years after the death of the original author.

One must also note that although a person can be the creator of the work, copyright can be assigned to another.

Contact us for legal guidance regarding copyright protection in South Africa and abroad.

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