Software copyright does NOT have to be REGISTERED in South Africa. Once the computer program is created in a material form, the work is instantly subject to copyright. The general rule is that the “person who exercised control over the making of the computer program” is the author and first owner of copyright in the work. This refers to the person who gave instructions on the purpose and functionality of the program. In other words, the programmer / developer is not necessarily the author and copyright owner, especially if he was contracted to create the work under specific instructions.

Once the work is created in a material form the copyright owner may use the copyright © symbol. Copyright is the exclusive right to control the use of a computer program in all the manners in which it can be exploited for personal gain or profit. This includes: Copy, Publish, Perform in public, Broadcast (e.g. Internet), Adapt, Translate, Let or offer for hire.

The best way to protect your computer program / software copyright is to ensure that you have evidence of your rights in the event that your copyright is infringed.

  • Keep record of any agreements / e-mails / invoices pertaining to the work.
  • Keep all the flow-charts / drawings / plans for the work.
  • Use the copyright © symbol when presenting your work.
  • Mark your work with your name.
  • Store electronic copies in a safe place.
  • Keep the original works hidden in a safe place.
  • Store printed copies of your work in a safe place.
  • Register your copyright in the U.S.

U.S. Copyright Registration

Copyright registrations in the U.S can be filed through the United States Copyright Office by a Smit & Van Wyk, Inc. copyright attorney. The estimated cost of registering copyright in one work in the U.S is R5000, including all official fees and professional fees. The duration of software or computer program copyright endures for 50 years after the death of the programmer / developer, except where the work was not made public before the death of the programmer / developer in which case copyright endures 50 years after it was made public. PLEASE NOTE THAT PRICES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE. PRICES ARE ONLY AN INDICATION. PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE FOR A FORMAL QUOTATION.

Copyright & Licensing Agreements

Owners of copyright have the right to compensation or royalties when anyone exploits the computer program as above. Copyright owners can license or permanently transfer or assign their exclusive rights to others.