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Copyright Guidelines for Staff & Students of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WITS): Authors' Rights

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

Copyright Ownership

The author or creator of the work is the owner of the copyright, unless the person is in employment, and the work is created in the course and scope of the employment, in which case the employer holds the copyright.

It is, however, possible for the creator of the work to commission or share copyright, as in joint authorship, or to contractually assign in writing, the copyright or part thereof, to a publisher or other third party, either on an outright basis or for a limited purpose or period.

Moral Rights

Moral rights comprise the right of paternity, i.e. the right to claim authorship of the work, and the right of integrity, i.e. the right to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work where such action is or would be prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author.

Moral rights are separate and distinct from the copyright subsisting in the work, and cannot be transferred to a third party. (Ref. Dean, O, SA Handbook of Copyright. Juta, 1988, 1-61, Services 8)

Enforcement Rights

The author or owner or his/her licensee (in some cases) can take legal action to stop infringements of his/her rights. This can include seizure of the infringing material, damages and an interdict preventing further infringement of his/her rights. The Courts have the power to award additional damages where there has been a flagrant breach of copyright.

The Copyright Act also makes provision for criminal penalties - a fine (a maximum of R5 000 per infringement) and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years for a first conviction. The maximum fine and/or imprisonment penalty for a second conviction is R10 000 and/or 5 years.