Intellectual Property

South Africa

Copyright Infringement Questions

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Some of the most common Copyright Infringement Questions are briefly answered below:

Is a website owner responsible for the copyright infringement on their website if a user has uploaded copyright protected work for which there has not been given permission by the rightful copyright holder?
Yes, even if the website owner displays a disclaimer regarding the content of the website, he or she will be held accountable for copyright infringement. The reason is simple. It is the website owner’s responsibility to monitor the content of their website even if it is a forum.

Does this mean that a website owner and not the website marketing company will be held responsible for copyright infringement if an article is placed on the website that constitutes some form of plagiarism?
In a sense, yes, unless there is a contract in place that indemnifies the website owner from any lawsuits because the web marketing company takes responsibility for the content provided through an agreement. This means that the website owner should ensure that there is an agreement in place that states the web marketing company, which provides the articles, takes responsibility for the originality of the content.

What happens when a person gets an article from an article directory and places it at their website, to find out later that the article was already a copyright infringement?
Depending on the terms and conditions of use at the article directory, the website owner unless he can give evidence of where the article was obtained, can be held responsible for copyright infringement. The person who has copied the article and presented it as their own work at the article directory is the person who is ultimately responsible for copyright infringement.

If a person changes the content of a free article or places it without the resource box in place, does it constitute copyright infringement?
Yes since copyright is immediately implied and the terms and conditions of usage make up the user agreement, the website owner is in breach of the terms of the agreement.

Where can one get legal assistance regarding copyright infringement related issues?
Simply contact us at Smit & Van Wyk Attorneys for professional legal assistance.

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