Copyright Registration In South Africa

What is a Copyright?

A copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives the creator of an original work, or another owner the right, the exclusive,

legally secured right to copy, distribute, adapt, display, and perform creative work, usually for a limited time. 

Copyright Registration In South Africa

It is not possible to register copyright in South Africa. Copyright is different from other forms of Intellectual Property because copyright does NOT have to be registered in South Africa. Once the work is created in material form it is instantly protected by copyright law and may use the copyright © symbol. To prove copyright infringement, the copyright holder must prove the date and time of creation. This can be done using a digital signature or fingerprint containing an accurate timestamp.

Copyright Protection Term

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 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

What constitutes copyright infringement? 

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 the work is acknowledged when copying or citing another author’s work.

Copyright & Licensing Agreements

Owners of copyright have the right to compensation or royalties when their works are sold, copied, or used. Copyright owners can license permanently transfer or assign their exclusive rights to others. It is important to note that an assignment and an exclusive license (which precludes anyone else, including the author from using the creation) must be in writing and signed by the assignor to be valid. A non-exclusive license may be written or oral, or inferred from the parties’ conduct.

What is the current Copyright Act in South Africa?

Copyright Law in South Africa is governed by the Copyright Act of 1978 and its amendments. CIPC and DTI oversee copyright in the country.

As a member of the Berne Convention and TRIPS Agreement, copyright works protected in South Africa are also protected in other member states of the above.

How much does a copyright cost in South Africa?

There is no such thing as copyright registration in South Africa. Copyright arises automatically and is free. It need not be registered. One only adds the “(c)” symbol, “owner’s name” and “date” for evidentiary purposes.

How long does copyright last in South Africa?

In South Africa the term of copyright is 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was first made or in which the author dies or is presumed to have died.