20 May 2021 Volume :9 Issue :16

Understanding Copyright Protection

Understanding Copyright Protection
Ms Zama Buthelezi, UKZN alumnus and senior associate at Spoor and Fisher Attorneys.Click here for isiZulu version

In celebration of World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, UKZN’s InQubate, the University’s technology transfer office hosted a webinar on copyright protection in collaboration with Spoor and Fisher Attorneys.

Ms Charlotte Mashaba, Technology Transfer: Manager highlighted the importance of understanding IP in relation to business and certain disciplines in industry. ‘We’ve hosted a series of webinars and spoken about artificial intelligence and trademarks. Today we’ll be discussing copyrights and giving you an understanding of what they are, what they do and how to use them.’

Ms Zama Buthelezi, senior associate at Spoor and Fisher Attorneys and UKZN alumnus, examined the theme for World IP Day. Given the relationship between ideas and copyright law she read a statement by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): ‘Every business starts with an idea. Each of the millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that operate across the globe started with an idea and that took shape in someone’s mind and made its way to market.’

Focusing on the purpose of copyright law in preventing a party from copying, Buthelezi added that copyright is limited to literary, musical and artistic works; sound recordings; cinematograph films; sound and television broadcast; programmes carrying signals; published editions and computer programmes.

She commented that copyrights exist automatically and cannot be registered in South Africa, except for cinematograph films.

Delving into the requirements for copyright protection, Buthelezi said: ‘The work must be original, be a product of the creator’s own efforts and skills and not copied from other sources. It must be in material form and the creator of the work must be a citizen, resident or domiciled in South Africa or a Berne Convention country, or their work should first be published in South Africa or one of the Berne Convention countries.’

Buthelezi emphasised the importance of transferring one’s idea into material form in order for it to be protected and highlighted that copyright only prevents others from reproducing the “work” and not the “idea”.

Drawing on the many facets of IP she explored the various options to protect ideas, inventions, products and the names of businesses, etc. She listed work done during the course of employment and independent contractors as some of the exceptions to copyright ownership.

Finally, Buthelezi noted that copyright has a definite life span that is generally valid for 50 years from the year of the creator’s death or the time the work is first published. Thereafter, it is in the public domain. She also listed restricted acts and infringements that are included in copyright protection and indicated some solutions.

To watch the webinar recording please click here.

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Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Supplied

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