In South Africa there is no official form of copyright registration. All original work is protected by copyright from the moment it is set in physical format. So how do you protect your copyright? You need to prove that you are the creator of the work and you need manage and monitor the distribution of your work where you can.

To protect your copyright, you can:

  1. Date your work digitally to preserve evidence that your work was in existence at a certain date.
  2. Send a copy of the work to yourself by ‘Special Delivery’.
  3. Keep the proof hidden in a safe place (with your solicitor, bank manager or attorney)

What protection does Copyright offer?

If you own the copyright to a piece of work, you possess the sole authority to:

  1. Copy the work
  2. Perform, show or play the work in public
  3. Communicate the work to the public (TV, radio, Internet)
  4. Issue, lend or rent copies to the public.

Copyright Duration

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

Literary, Musical or Artistic Works – copyright exists for the life of the author plus 50 years following death, calculated from the end of the year the author died in or 50 years from the date of first publication, performance in public, offering for sale of records thereof or the broadcasting thereof , whichever is later.
Films and Photographs – 50 years from the end of the year in which the work is made publicly available, or the end of the year in which the work is first published, whichever is longer, or fifty years from the end of the year in which the work is made
Sound Recordings – 50 years from the end of the year in which the recording is first published
Broadcasts – 50 years from the end of the year in which the broadcast first takes place
Programme-carrying Signals – 50 years from the end of the year in which the signals are emitted to a satellite
Published Editions – 50 years from the end of the year in which the edition is published