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What is Copyright?
Copyright infringement occurs when you:
- perform an action which may legally only be performed by the copyright holder;
- deprive the copyright holder of income by making illegal or unauthorised copies of a work;
- create an illegal digital edition of a work and
- illegally copy artistic works, e.g. images, on the Internet.
Intellectual property is protected by the South African Copyright Act 98 of 1978
Read more about Copyright Law in SA
Questions about Copyright
Be a Responsible Scholar: Mind Copyright!
A copyright license grants the license holder the right to exercise such rights as are granted through a license agreement e.g. a license may be granted to reproduce the pages of a book but the owner of the copyright remains the owner of the rights in question e.g. to reproduce the pages of a book. Also, consider:
- DALRO makes access to published work easy and affordable through licensing.
- Reserved works: Blanket licensing to Higher Education Institutions allows numbers of students and professional employees, who would not, in any case, have bought the published work, to lawfully gain access to a photocopied extract form the work.
- E-copy: If you want to create a digital edition of a work and you are not the owner of the copyright, you have to get permission from the copyright owner.
- Out-of-print: Out of print does not mean “out-of-copyright” because even if a book is out of print and the author does not generate income from its sales, they might still generate income via translation rights, film rights or photocopying.
- Maps, drawings and pictures are “artistic works” in the Copyright Act and are also copyright protected.
- Images on the Internet: Even if the owner of the website has a license to use the image, it does not automatically extend to you as a visitor to his / her site.
- Intellectual property: If you write a book in South Africa, copyright arises automatically.
- Duration: In SA copyright protection in literature, music and artistic works lasts for the life of the author and 50 years after his death (multiple authors – 50 years after the longest living author died).
Fair use or fair dealing is provided for in a section of the SA Copyright Act. As long as your copy does not deprive the rights holder of income, your actions are legal. Making multiple copies of a copyright-protected work, however, falls outside fair dealing. Fair dealing allows:
- copying for research and study as much of a work to meet reasonable needs without seeking permission from the copyright owner and paying compensation
- quoting from a copyright-protected work provided the source, author or copyright owner is acknowledged
- using a work for the purpose of criticism, review or for reporting current events in a newspaper, journal or magazine