Skip to Main Content

Copyright and Related Issues: Works Eligible for Copyright Protection in South Africa

This Libguide is a useful guide on international, regional and South African copyright and related issues.

Literary Works

Include – novels, stories, poetical works, dramatic works, stage directions, cinematograph film scenarios and broadcasting scripts; textbooks, treaties, histories, biographies, essays and articles; encyclopedias and dictionaries; letters, reports and memoranda; lectures, speeches and sermons; and tables and compilations, including tables and compilations of data stored or embodied in a computer or a medium used in conjunction with a computer, but not including a computer program.

Literary works also include –

  • in the case of a non-dramatic work, a version of the work in which it is converted into a dramatic work;
  • in the case of a dramatic work, a version of the work in which it is converted into a non-dramatic work;
  • a translation of the work; or
  • a version of the work in which the story or action is conveyed wholly or mainly by manes of pictures in a form suitable for reproduction in a book or in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical;

 ​​​​​​​Source: SA Copyright Act No. 98 of 1978 (as amended)

Musical Works

Include any arrangement or transcription of the work, if such arrangement or transcription has an original creative character;

Artistic Works

Include paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings and photographs; works of architecture, being either buildings or models of buildings; or works of craftsmanship, not falling within either category given above. It also includes a transformation of the work in such a manner that the original or substantial features thereof remain recognizable

Computer Programs

A set of instructions fixed or stored in any manner and which, when used directly or indirectly in a computer, directs its operation to bring about a result.

Cinematograph Films

Any fixation or storage by any means whatsoever on film or any other material of data, signals or a sequence of images capable, when used in conjunction with any other mechanical, electronic or other device, of being seen as a moving picture and of reproduction, and includes the sounds embodied in a sound-track associated with the film but shall not include a computer program.

Sound Recordings

Any fixation or storage of sounds, or data or signals, representing sounds, capable of being reproduced, but does not include a sound-track associated with a cinematograph film.


When used as a noun, a broadcast means a telecommunication service of transmissions consisting of sounds, images, signs or signals which takes place by means of electromagnetic waves of frequencies of lower than 3000 GHz transmitted in space without an artificial conductor; and is intended for reception by the public or sections of the pubic, and includes the emitting of programme-carrying signals to a satellite, and, when used as a verb, shall be construed accordingly;

Programme-Carrying Signals

 A signal embodying a program which is emitted and passes through a satellite.

Published Editions

The first print by whatever process of a particular typographical arrangement of a literary or musical work.