The copyright law of South Africa governs the right to control the use and distribution of copyright works, in South Africa. Copyright lawyers represent clients who’s copyright has been infringed upon, or when they have been accused of infringement. The copyright law of South Africa is embodied in the Copyright Act, 1978 and its various amendment acts, and administered by the CIPC in the Department of Trade and Industry. South Africa is a party to the Berne Convention and the TRIPS Agreement. It has signed, but not ratified, the WIPO Copyright Treaty.
Each type of copyright work is defined specifically in the Act. It isn’t always easy to identify which type of “work” a creation resorts under and it may be that one work may embody different types of copyright protection. Copyright in South Africa differs from other forms of intellectual property in that it does NOT need to be registered. Unlike patents, trade marks or registered designs, copyright vests in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form.
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.
Generally, in respect of written material, the following guidelines apply:
Wherever possible, the author’s permission should be sought to reproduce his/her work. If in an article, paper or speech, when referring to the work of another, it is required that details of the reference be provided in the form of the name of the author and details of his/her publication i.e. title of book or magazine, publisher, date of publication etc.
If only a small portion of the work is used, say a few sentences or a paragraph, and provided that an acknowledgement is made, permission is not needed. If a “significant” section is reproduced, such as a chapter, then permission should be obtained. It is generally accepted that work that is being used in academic institutions, research or for private use may be reproduced.
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. Copyright in South Africa differs from other forms of intellectual property in that it does NOT need to be registered. Unlike patents, trade marks or registered designs, copyright vests in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form.