Copyright Myths Exposed

In many instances copyright infringement takes place simply because of ignorance and misconceptions. A few guidelines are provided below to help you avoid copyright infringement.

Work on the internet is copyright protected

Make no mistake most works on the Internet are copyright protected. Only if a work falls within public domain, that is the copyright has expired, then can one freely copy or use the work, but it is still necessary to cite the source. Photos on the Internet, whether on Facebook or any other medium, are copyright protected. The moment an artistic or literary work is put into tangible form, it is automatically protected by copyright.

Works without copyright notices are still protected

Do not make the mistake of believing that if there is no copyright notice or symbol that the work falls within public domain. Most works which are in public domain can be found in special lists and databases on the Internet. Even if there is no copyright notice, you can assume that the work is protected. If templates are available on the Internet with a specific requirement, you must follow the terms and conditions of usage. The templates may not have copyright notices, but the authors may require that you leave the link in place and notice of authorship. If you delete such you lose the right to usage.

Adapting a piece of work doesn’t make the work yours

Article rewriting if done for your own website and from your own work or for the purpose of submitting to article directories is not copyright infringement. If, however, you find an article on the Internet and decide that you like it and change it a bit to pass the copy detection tools, you are still in violation of copyright. If you refer to another’s work, the source must be cited. If you adapt or copy an article from the Internet without permission from the author it stays copyright infringement. You can use a work as inspiration, but once you start writing make sure that you create original content.

Intellectual Property in South Africa


Copyright does NOT have to be registered in South Africa. Copyright vests in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form. In South Africa, the term for copyright protection is 50 years, either from the end of the year in which it was created or made publicly available.


A South African patent may be granted for an invention or idea that is new, inventive and useful. Obtaining a patent in South Africa is a two-step process, with the two steps being spaced 12 months apart. A provisional patent application is filed in order to obtain the earliest possible date from which to claim rights.


A registered design protects the appearance of an object. Aesthetic designs protect the appearance of an object irrespective of the aesthetic value thereof. Functional designs protect the appearance of an article in as far as its appearance is necessitated by the function that the object is to perform.


A trademark distinguishes your goods or services from the goods or services of others.  Once a trademark is registered in South Africa it needs to be renewed every 10 years to stay in force. A trademark may be registered forever.  Name, Slogan, Logo, Shapes, Motions, Positions, Gestures, scents, Sounds, Textures.