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Science - Plagiarism & Referencing: Copyright

UJ Library Catalogue

What is Copyright?

What is Copyright?

  • Copyright is a form of Intellectual Property, "applicable to any expressed representation of a creative work" (Wikipedia)  
  • Aimed at preventing unauthorised persons from copying certain types of works
  • Copyright Act of 1978 regulates the law of copyright and specifies certain categories of protected works

The Copyright Act currently protects:

  • Literary Works
  • Artistic Works
  • Musical Works
  • Sound Recordings
  • Cinematograph Films
  • Sound and Television Broadcasts
  • Program Carrying Signals
  • Published Editions
  • Computer Programs 

Examples of Protected Works:

  • Instruction Manuals
  • Drawings and Logo designs
  • Brochures
  • Study Guides
  • Photographs
  • Computer Programs

There is no Copyright on:

  • ideas, facts, or in the “news of the day”, or in speeches of a political nature, although authors have the exclusive right of making a collection of their speeches.
  • One can safely assume that if something is copyrightable in print, it is also copyrightable in electronic forms.

How does copyright come into existence?

  • Copyright subsists automatically
  • No formal steps, such as registration, are required to be taken in order to obtain copyright in a work
  • A particular work must meet certain requirements in order to enjoy copyright
  • Requirements


  • The work must be original
  • Not a requirement that the work is inventive or unique
  • The Work must be the product of the creator’s own efforts and skills
  • It should not be copied from other sources

Material Form

  • Copyright does not exist in an idea alone
  • Must exist in a material form
  • A design (artistic work) does not come into existence until it is reduced to paper, even if the designer has a clear idea of the design he wishes to create

Qualified Person

  • a citizen, resident or must be domiciled in South Africa
  • in the case of a legal body, such entity must be incorporated in South Africa
  • or one of the convention countries

How long does copyright last?

  • Copyright has a definite life span
  • Different terms of duration apply to different types of works
  • For Literary & Artistic works - 50 years from the end of the year in which the author dies;
  • Photographs & Computer programs - 50 years after the work is made available to the public with the consent of the Copyright Owner

Copyright Basics

Copyright and students

Why the concern about Copyright

Why the concern about Copyright

It is the University’s policy to comply with the Copyright Act and Regulations and in so doing to respect the rights of the authors and publishers and to pay reasonable licence fees where required by law.

Infringement of copyright by the Universities, Heads of Departments or lecturers and students could result in legal action and possible awards of damages.


Fair Dealing

“Fair Use”

A Student CAN

  • make a copy for the purposes of research or private study, or for personal or private use, in terms of ‘fair dealing’ 

A Student CAN NOT:

  • make multiple copies for other students. Each student must make his/her own copies, within the legal limits. 

Certain works are automatically in the public domain:

  • Works whose copyright protection has expired
  • Government publications
  • Ideas, names, titles, short phrases, and slogans


Source: YouTube video

Copyright implies that an information source may not be copied in order to avoid buying the source

The copyright law protects authors from losing out on royalties that would be paid to them each time a copy is purchased.

Students who make photocopies of handbooks to avoid purchasing them are breaking the law.

  • Books have usually copyright warnings on the back of the title page.
  • Exceptions are made for “fair use”, which means that one article from a journal or one chapter  from a book may be photocopied by an individual for his/her personal use for educational or research purposes

Copyright and Fair Use Animation

Copyright, What's Copyright?

Copyright Perspectives: Spring Break

Subject Guide

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Pavlinka Kovatcheva
University of Johannesburg Library
Auckland Park Campus
+27 11 5592621

UJ Copyright Officer

For any queries on Copyright, please contact: 

Mr Thapelo Mashishi     


Tel +27 11 559 2182         

Fax: +27 11 726 7723

UJ Copyright website