COPYRIGHT does NOT have to be REGISTERED in South Africa and the UK. Once the work is created in a material form, the work is instantly subject to copyright. The general rule is that the author / writer / photographer / creator is the first owner of copyright in the work.  Once the work is created in a material form the copyright owner may use the copyright © symbol. Copyright registrations in the U.S can be filed through the United States Copyright Office by a copyright attorney. The estimated cost of registering copyright in one work in the USA is R2800, including all official fees and professional fees. Please contact us at should you wish to register your copyright in the USA.

Copyright is the exclusive right to control the use of a work in all the manners in which it can be exploited for personal gain or profit. This includes: Copy, Publish, Perform in public, Broadcast (eg. on radio/TV), Adapt, Translate, Let or offer for hire. The best way to protect your copyright is to ensure that you have evidence of your rights in the event that your copyright is infringed.

We suggest the following:

  1. Keep record of any agreements / e-mails / invoices pertaining to the work.
  2. Use the copyright © symbol when presenting your work.
  3. Mark your work with your name, titles, dates & times.
  4. Store electronic copies in a safe place.
  5. Keep the original works hidden in a safe place.
  6. Store printed copies of your work in a safe place.
  7. Register your copyright in the USA.

All types of work that is subject to copyright include:

  • Artistic works
    • paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings & photographs
    • works of architecture (buildings or models of buildings)
    • works of craftsmanship
  • Broadcasts
  • Literary works
    • novels, stories & poems
    • dramatic works, stage directions, cinematograph film scenarios & broadcasting scripts
    • textbooks, treatises, histories, biographies, essays and articles
    • encyclopaedias & dictionaries
    • letters, reports & memoranda
    • lectures, speeches & sermons
    • tables and compilations of data stored or embodied in a computer or a medium used in conjunction with a computer (does not include a computer program)
  • Cinematograph films
  • Computer programs
  • Musical works
  • Programme-carrying signals
  • Published editions
  • Sound recordings

The duration of copyright in a work depends on the specific type of work. In the case of literary, musical or artistic works, copyright endures for 50 years after the death of the author, except where the work was not made public before the death of the author in which case copyright endures 50 years after it was made public.

Copyright & Licensing Agreements

Owners of copyright have the right to compensation or royalties when anyone exploits the work as above. Copyright owners can license or permanently transfer or assign their exclusive rights to others. Contact our copyright attorneys at Smit & Van Wyk, Inc. regarding your copyright and licensing agreements at Feel free to contact us should you have any questions or require assistance with copyright licensing and infringement matters.