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Copyright Guidelines for Staff & Students of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WITS): Info/Definitions

This LibGuide provides definitions, legislation and procedures for copyright clearance for teaching and research purposes.

Correct Form of Acknowledgement


Should anyone wish to quote from or use any of the information contained in these web pages, or link this webpage to their website, kindly use the following acknowledgement:-

 "Acknowledgement is given to the University of the Witwatersrand, Scholarly Communications & Copyright Services Office, 1 Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2013"


 N.B. This information is primarily for staff and students at the University of the Witwatersrand.  Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, the University of the Witwatersrand does not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions with regard to the information on this webpage, or to any related information which may be linked to or accessible from any third party websites.


This LibGuide provides definitions, legislation and procedures on copyright clearances for Wits staff and students for teaching and research purposes.  However, much of the information will also be useful for educators, researchers, students and other information users in South Africa.

When using this LibGuide, please remember to click on the main Blue Tabs, as well as the sub-Tabs on the click-down menus on each Tab.


What is Copyright?

Copyright is a 'bundle' of exclusive rights, given to authors and creators, to protect their original works (i.e. literary, musical and artistic works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, published editions and computer software). It is not the 'right' of the user to copy!


Authors and creators have these exclusive rights in terms of the SA Copyright Act No. 98 of 1978 (as amended):-

  • To reproduce the work in any manner or form;
  • To publish the work if it has not been published before;
  • To perform the work in public; To broadcast the work;
  • To cause the work to be transmitted in a diffusion service;
  • To make an adaptation of the work

(These activities also apply to adaptations)


Copyright provides an incentive for creativity and a means of financial compensation for authors and creators of intellectual property.

To have copyright protection, a work must be in a material format.

Ideas do not have copyright protection - only the expression of those ideas is protected.

There is no copyright in facts, the news of the day, or in political speeches. Authors however, have the exclusive right to make a collection of their speeches.

One can safely assume that if something is copyrightable in print, it is also copyrightable in electronic forms.


Authors/creators also have moral rights, i.e. the right to be named as author of the work and the right to protect their works from mutilation or distortion.

Attention : Notice about using copyrighted materials (Wits)




This notice serves to confirm that all students and users of the University’s websites and online databases, forums and platforms are aware that all materials, including any videos, images, printed or digital copies of materials and course-packs made available to users via Wits-e, Moodle, or any other University forum or platform are protected works of the University or third parties. The intellectual property rights in these materials vest in the University or third parties and have been reproduced for educational purposes by the University with the permission of the owners of the rights under a licence with the Dramatic, Artistic, and Literary Rights Organization (DALRO) or within the parameters of the Copyright Act No. 98 of 1978. These materials are compiled and made available through these forums and platforms by the University to facilitate access for registered students and employees at the University only. 

All materials are protected by copyright laws and any unauthorised use, reproduction, publication or distribution of the University’s or any third party’s protected works is a serious misconduct in terms of the University’s Codes and Policies for Student and Staff Discipline. Students and users of the materials are not permitted to reproduce, distribute, publish, and/or make an adaptation of the materials in any manner whatsoever. Strong action will be taken against any user who is making unauthorised use of materials which the University has made available to its students, staff and users. In addition to the University’s Codes and Policies, unauthorised use of protected materials may amount to an offence in terms of the Copyright Act No. 98 of 1978. Parties who are found guilty of copyright infringement may be liable to a fine or imprisonment in terms of the Copyright Act.