Copyright violations in the form of piracy cost the recording industry of SA more than R500 million a year. This is according to the chief executive of a copyright agency – James Lennox. When looking at the staggering losses because of piracy it is no wonder that the recording industry is up in arms about copyright violations. The penalty for copyright violations in terms of piracy is R5000 per item.

Still it doesn’t seem to make a dent in the amount of piracy that takes place. Street vendors sell pirated movies for next to nothing while the cost for the law abiding citizen can be around R150-R300 to purchase the movie, whilst DVD shops have to pay from R300 to R600 for the movie. If you suspect copyright violations in terms of movie piracy take a stand and contact the police and help protect the work of artists.

Making photocopies for private use is NOT an infringement of copyright. Copying a public speech or a lecture does NOT constitute infringement. No infringement results if work is acknowledged when one is copying or citing from another author’s work. Wherever possible, the author’s permission should be sought to reproduce his/her work.

Clearly, if you were to copy a tape or a CD and sell this, it would constitute copyright infringement. But when a Dee-Jay at a party plays CDs, is copyright being infringed? As a general guide, copyright infringement can be said to occur where the copyrighted material of others is used for commercial gain as opposed to private or personal use. Copyright infringement does not occur if you copy a public speech or lecture, made for information purposes, or photocopy government publications for public usage.