South African Copyright Law

Intellectual Property
Home / South Africa / South African Copyright Law

The South African Copyright Law regulates all aspects of copyright in the country including the rights to compensation, acknowledgement, authorship, usage, and distribution of works protected under the South African Copyright Law. The main South African Copyright Laws are to be found in the 1978 Copyright Act and the amendment acts which have flown from it.

CIPC (CIPRO), which stands for Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office, oversees registration of copyright regarding for instance, cinematograph films and videos for commercial purposes. The Copyright Law is governed in part by the fact that South Africa is a Berne Convention member and is a party to the TRIPS Agreement. With that then works copyright protected in other Berne Convention countries are thus also copyright protected in South Africa and vice versa.

The original Copyright Act of 1911 was replaced by the 1965 Copyright Act when South Africa became an independent republic in 1961. The South African Copyright Law, however, was still strongly based on the British Copyright Law. With the latest Copyright Act of 1978, a move was made from the heavy reliance on the British Copyright Law to South African Law that embedded elements from the British Copyright Law and the Berne Convention.

It wasn’t the final copyright act, since many amendments followed since 1978. One such an amendment was the 1992 amendment which placed computer programs in a separate class of copyright protection. Under South African Law there are eight more classes of work which are protected including that of literary, musical, and artistic works, as well as sound recordings, published editions, and cinematograph films. Each of the classes has a specific period of protection associated with such.