With the current photography copyright laws in South Africa there are specific formal paths that need to be followed to gain a copyright to your photos or artwork. The reason for this is that these photography copyright is assigned the moment that a photo is taken and if that photo meets copyright requirements as stated in the South African Copyright Act of 1978 and its amendment, it qualifies for copyright protection.

The requirements for photography copyright:

  1. Photograph is eligible for copyright protection in the specific category of the South African Copyright law.
  2. Photo is the work of the artist.

The next thing that is needed to assign a photography copyright, is that the art work must be in tangible format. This implies that an idea cannot be protected under the South African copyright laws. The idea must thus be put in for instance, an image format. The work presented by the artist must also be unique whether it is a music piece, a painting, or a photograph.

You cannot take another person’s photo and just edit it to claim photography copyright on it. It is also important that in art work unlike with inventions the artist does not have to take a photo of something in a manner never done before. You can also not limit the artist to taking a photo of something never photographed. The photo is original when the artist displays creativity in the selection of light, subject, and technique.

If you are a photographer and take a picture on behalf of someone who has commissioned it, you will not retain the photography copyrights if the person pays for the service. The copyright will then belong to the one who has commissioned the pictures. Contact us for professional legal assistance regarding photography copyright in South Africa.