Copyright Law in South Africa

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

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Copyright protects original works that were created by an Author:
Literary Works (novels, poems, textbooks, letters, reports, lectures, speeches), Musical Works, Artistic Works (paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs), Cinematograph Films / Videos, Sound Recordings, Broadcasts , Programme-carrying Signals, Published Editions of Books, and Computer Programs.

Trade Marks

Trade Marks protect the identity of your Brand:
Names, Logos, Slogans, Three-dimensional Marks, Colors, Holograms, Motions / Multimedia, Positions, Gestures, Olfactory (smells / scents), Sounds / Tunes, Tastes, Textures.


Patents protect the underlying Invention of an Article:
Processes or methods for producing a results, Gadgets (Non-Electronic, electronic, electrical, mechanical), Machines, Manufactured Articles, New Compositions, Biotechnology (Medical, Scientific or Microbiological Processes), and Chemical or Pharmaceutical Compounds.

Industrial Designs

Registered Designs protect the appearance of an Article:
The distinct shape and design of Devices, Gadgets, Machines and / or Products such as Vehicle Parts, Tyres, Shoes, Clothing, Appliances, Stationary, Mobile Phones, Handbags, Furniture.