The copyright process compared to other intellectual processes: There is no formal registration process for work concerned as there is with the other two subjects mentioned. There are, however, rather extensive laws governing the copyright process ranging from what is required in order for a piece of work to qualify for copyright protection, to determining the owner of the rights to the material.

What is eligible for Copyright protection

Through the years, certain classes of copyright have been developed, rather artificially, to describe works eligible for copyright protection. In general, any original work made by a qualified person is eligible for copyright protection. Originality refers to the fact that the author must have created the work through the application of the author’s own creativity and labour. A qualified person refers to any national or resident of South Africa or a Berne Convention country. In addition, the work that is to enjoy copyright protection must have been reduced to a material form. In other words, mere ideas are not considered protectable by way of copyright. The author must have written down or recorded the creation in a material form for copyright to come into existence. As technology has progressed, the types of works eligible for copyright have expanded to include new creations which were previously unknown, such as computer programs and broadcasts. In terms of the South African Copyright Act (No. 98 of 1978), the following works, if original, are eligible for copyright protection:

Literary Works (eg. novels, poems, textbooks, letters, reports, lectures, speeches)
Musical Works
Artistic Works (eg. paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs)
Cinematograph Films / Videos
Sound Recordings
Broadcasts (electromagnetic transmissions intended for reception by the public)
Programme-carrying Signals (a programme signal which passes through a satellite)
Published Editions of Books (usually the first print of a literary or musical work)
Computer Programs (instructions directing the operation of a computer)

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.

Copyright Requirements

In general, any original work made by a qualified person is eligible for copyright protection. Originality refers to the fact that the author must have created the work through the application of the author’s own creativity and labour. A qualified person refers to any national or resident of South Africa or a Berne Convention country.