What is copyright?
Copyright is a branch of Intellectual Property law. It protects and gives rights to the creators of, among others, literary, artistic and musical works. These rights are both economic and moral, and allow creators to profit from, and protect the integrity of, their work.
Copyright also limits what others may do with the creator's work without permission.
You need permission, i.e. a licence, from the creator to do the following:
- Reproduce the work in any manner or form
- Publish it
- Perform it in public
- Cause it to be transmitted in a diffusion service
- Adapt it
How do you establish copyright?
For a work to qualify for copyright protection it has to be original, i.e. not a copy of another work, and it must exist in material form. There is no copyright in ideas, but if the idea is recorded in material form (in writing, on a canvas, as a photograph), it's automatically protected by copyright. There are no formalities and the work doesn't have to be registered.
What types of works are protected by copyright?
Works protected by copyright are:
- Literary works
- Musical works
- Artistic works
- Cinematograph films
- Sound recordings
- Programme-carrying signals
- Published editions
- Computer programmes
How does DALRO fit in?
DALRO deals with literary works, artistic works and published editions. As long as the legal requirements for copyright protection are met, artistic or literary quality doesn't play a part in whether or not it's protected.
"Published edition" is the typographical arrangement of a literary work. Every book, for instance, contains two copyrights: the copyright in the expression of ideas, which usually belongs to the author, and the copyright in the typographical arrangement, which belongs to the publisher. There could be other separate copyrights in the artwork contained in a book too.
So, for instance, if you photocopy without permission a work that's no longer in copyright (more than 50 years have passed since the death of the author and the period of protection has ended), but was published less than 50 years ago, you may have infringed the publisher's copyright in the published edition.
Who owns copyright?
Copyright in a literary, musical or artistic work generally belongs to the author. There are some exceptions to this rule, mainly around employment. For example, if someone creates a work while he's employed under a contract of service, copyright belongs to the employer. The employer and employee can change this through a contract they both agree on.
Copyright in a published edition belongs to the publisher.
What is licensing?
A copyright licence grants the licence holder, or licensee, the right to exercise certain rights from the owner's bundle of copyrights. The rightsholder is still the owner of the rights.
Licences may be exclusive or non-exclusive.
What is assignment?
A rightsholder can transfer some or all of his rights to another person or to a company by assignment.
The rights then become the property of the assignee, and the original rightsholder can't exercise any further economic rights to the work he's assigned.
Assignment can be for the duration of the copyright, for instance where the rights are sold, or for a specific period, e.g. when the work is given to a publisher.
I HAVE WRITTEN A BOOK. HOW DO I REGISTER MY COPYRIGHT?
In South Africa you don't need to register copyright. it's automatic. The ideas you express on the page or the computer screen become your intellectual property as you set them down in material form.
HOW DO I COPYRIGHT THE NAME OF MY PLAY/BOOK/BUSINESS?
There's no copyright in a title or a name.
DO I NEED A LICENCE TO PHOTOCOPY A CHAPTER FROM A BOOK FOR MY OWN PERSONAL AND PRIVATE USE?
No, this is allowed under fair dealing.
IS IT CORRECT THAT I'M ALLOWED TO PHOTOCOPY 10% OR LESS OF A PUBLISHED WORK?
No, it's not correct. The Copyright Act says nothing about '10%' or about any other percentage. 10% may be 'fair' but then again, it may not. The test for fair dealing is qualitative and quantitative. Please refer to the section on fair dealing.
IF THE BOOK I WANT TO COPY FROM IS OUT OF PRINT, SURELY I CAN DO AS I PLEASE?
'Out of print' doesn't necessarily mean 'out of copyright'. In South Africa, copyright lasts for 50 years after the death of the author. Remember, there are two copyrights in every published page, so the author may own copyright in the content, but the publisher owns copyright in the published edition, or the typographical arrangement on the page. Copyright in the published edition lasts for 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was first published.
SURELY IF THE BOOK IS OUT OF PRINT AND UNAVAILABLE, THE PUBLISHER ISN'T LOSING ANY SALES IF I COPY ITS BOOK?
Publishers and authors don't only exploit a work when it is in print, and sales aren't the only means of gaining financially from a work. Long after the book is out of print it can generate revenues for its creators through the sale of, e.g. translation rights, film rights and reprographic reproduction (photocopying) rights.
WHAT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHS, DRAWINGS, GRAPHS AND MAPS?
The Copyright Act defines these all as 'artistic works' and they're copyright protected.
WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO PAY COPYRIGHT FEES? ISN'T INFORMATION SUPPOSED TO BE FREE?
The royalties collected by Reprographic Rights Organisations, like DALRO, go back to the rightsholders; the people who created the intellectual property. Without reimbursement, they have little incentive to go on creating, and there wouldn't be any information. Let's look at it like this, no page you copy is free: you pay for the paper, the ink, the toner and the use of the machine. When you pay a copyright fee as well, you also pay for the content, probably the most valuable part of your photocopy!