Copyright in South Africa

Copyright in South Africa, like in most other countries, differs from other forms of intellectual property in that it is not a right that needs to be registered (except in the USA). Unlike patents, trade marks or registered designs, copyright vests in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form.

What is eligible for Copyright protection?

Through the years, certain classes of copyright have been developed, rather artificially, to describe works eligible for copyright protection.


The authorship of copyrighted works is frequently disputed. The South African Copyright Act provides very clear guidelines as to who shall be considered authors of any particular types of copyrighted works.


This depends on the type of work that has been created. Generally, the term of copyright is 50 years, subject to the following. Read more...

Transfer of Copyright

Much like other property, copyright can be transferred by assignment, testamentary disposition or by operation of law. Copyright can also be licensed to a licensee for royalties.

It is important to note that an assignment and an exclusive license (which precludes anyone else, including the author from using the creation) must be in writing and signed by the assignor to be valid.

A non-exclusive license may be written or oral, or inferred from the conduct of the parties.

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