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Copyright and Related Issues: When Does an Employer Own Copyright?

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

Commissions (Section 21(c) of the SA Copyright Act

Where a person commissions the taking of a photograph, the painting or drawing of a portrait, the making of a gravure, the making of a cinematograph film or the making of a sound recording and pays or agrees to pay for it in money or money’s worth, and the work is made in pursuance of that commission, such person shall, subject to the provisions of paragraph (b), be the owner of any copyright subsisting therein by virtue of section 3 or 4 of the Copyright Act.

Contract of Service or Apprenticeship (Section 21(d) of the SA Copyright Act)

Where in the case not falling within the above categories 21(b) or 21(c), a work is made in the course of the author’s employment by another person under a contract of service or apprenticeship, that other person shall be the owner of any copyright subsisting in the work by virtue of Section 3 or 4 of the Copyright Act.

Course & Scope of Employment (Section 21(b) of the SA Copyright Act)

Where a literary or artistic work is made by an author in the course of his/her employment by the proprietor of a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical under a contract of service or apprenticeship, and is so made for the purpose of publication in the newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, the said proprietor shall be the owner of the copyright in the work,  in so far as the copyright relates to publication of the work in any newspaper, magazine or similar periodical or to reproduction of the work for the purpose of its being so published.

But in all other respects the author shall be the owner of any copyright subsisting in the work by virtue of section 3 (relating to nationality, domicile or residence and duration of copyright) and section 4 (relating to copyright by reference to country of origin) in the Act.

(Source:South African Copyright Act No. 98 of 1978 (as amended))

Ownership of Research & Other Works at Wits

Wits staff and students are requested to consult the Intellectual Property Policy which is on the Wits Intranet, under the Registrar's Help Desk, or see tab for Wits IP Policy on this webpage.