HOW DO I GET COPYRIGHT ON SOMETHING?

Whenever someone creates a piece of original work based on their own idea, they are automatically granted copyright on that creation. This includes work produced by authors, musicians, computer programmers, artists etc.

Once someone has taken their idea and turned it into material form, they will immediately own the copyright on their work without having to register it or inform someone else, the only exception to this is cinematograph films, which can be registered. After a musician has written and recorded a song, for instance, it would have automatically become copyrighted with the musician being the copyright owner. Things that are part of the public domain do not fall under copyright. A public speech by a politician or public lecture by an author falls within the public domain so would not have copyright. A newspaper journalist, for example, would be able to reproduce and quote from a public lecture without the speaker’s permission.

What if there was more than one person involved?

The person who has copyright ownership over a product differs for the type of creation. In the case of a literary work, such as a novel, it would be the person who first created the work, the author. However, if it is a film, the person who made all the arrangements of the film, such as the producer, would own the copyright, and not the actors and actresses. If a person created something under the proprietorship of someone else or a business, then the copyright belongs to that person or entity, not the creator.

Who will protect my copyrighted work?

All countries who have signed the Berne Convention will automatically protect the copyright of any original work that someone produces. That means if you create a painting here in South Africa, it will still be copyright protected in another country, such as America, that’s part of the Berne Convention.

Has someone violated my copyright?

If another person has made photocopies of your work for themselves only, then it’s not a copyright infringement. As mentioned earlier, recording, copying or reproducing a public speech is also not a copyright infringement. In the academic world, it’s common for people to use each other’s material or research. If the original author and their work is properly acknowledged by being cited, then no infringement has happened. However, if the original work has not been properly cited, it would be considered a serious copyright infringement, or plagiarism.

So when do I know if someone has infringed on my copyright? If another person has used or reproduced your original work to share with others for profit, without your permission, then it’s a copyright infringement. Taking another person’s song and selling it online without paying royalties or informing them, for instance, would be a serious copyright infringement. Another example is if someone takes the literary or academic work of the original author, and puts their own name to it, making it seem as if they were the original author.

What is the duration of copyright?

Copyright doesn’t last forever. However, they do last for an exceptionally long time. Copyright lifespans also differ depending on the work produced. Copyright on literary work lasts for 50 years after the death of the author. Copyright over films lasts for 50 years after the date the film was first shown. Computer programs have a copyright that lasts for 50 years after the first copies of the program were made available.

In short, if you have created something original, such as a song or painting, you don’t have to figure out how to protect it. The law automatically protects you as the original creator of your work. If someone does try copy your work without your permission, you don’t need to worry. Your claim on your song, book, painting, program etc. was set the moment you created it.

References:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

VERSKILLE TUSSEN DIE WET OP GESINSGEWELD EN DIE WET OP BESKERMING TEEN TEISTERING

Daar is mense wat op ‘n daaglikse basis ly onder emosionele en fisiese mishandeling, maar nie heeltemal seker is wat hulle kan doen om dit te voorkom nie. Daar is twee opsies beskikbaar. Daar kan óf aansoek gedoen word vir ‘n Beskermingsbevel, óf vir ‘n Teisteringsbevel. Baie mense weet egter nie wat die verskil tussen die twee is en watter bevel van toepassing op hulle situasie sou wees nie.

‘n Beskermingsbevel word beskryf as ‘n vorm van ‘n hofbevel wat vereis dat ‘n party sekere dade moet doen, of ophou om sekere dade te doen. Hierdie bevele vloei uit die hof se krag om billike remedies toe te staan in die situasies. Die volgende moet teenwoordig wees wanneer jy aansoek doen vir ‘n beskermingsbevel:

  • Daar moet ʼn patroon van geweld wees.
  • Dit moet ‘n tipe huishoudelike geweld wees soos:
  • Fisiese geweld
  • Seksuele geweld
  • Finansiële geweld
  • Emosionele/verbale geweld
  • Die geweld moet teen die persoon wat die aansoek bring, gerig wees.

‘n Beskermingsbevel word ingesluit in die Wet op Gesinsgeweld. Dit beteken dat die misbruik tussen twee persone moet wees wat in dieselfde huis woon, soos broer en suster, of ma en pa, ens. Sodra die aansoek vir ‘n Beskermingsbevel toegestaan is, word ‘n keerdatum uitgereik. Op die keerdatum kan die Applikant besluit om aansoek te doen dat die bevel verwyder word of dat die Hof dit ‘n finale bevel maak. Indien die bevel finaal gemaak word, is dit permanent bindend. Indien die Respondent die Beskermingsbevel oortree, kan hy/sy tot 5 jaar gevangenisstraf ontvang. As die Applikant onder valse voorwendsels vir ‘n Beskermingsbevel aansoek doen, kan die Applikant tot 2 jaar gevangenisstraf ontvang.

Die aansoek vir ‘n Beskermingsbevel is ‘n ex-parte aansoek, wat beteken dat die aansoek sonder die Respondent se teenwoordigheid in die Hof aangehoor kan word. Dit kan probleme veroorsaak in die geval waar die Respondent onskuldig is en nie die geleentheid kry om homself/haarself te verdedig nie.

As jy die slagoffer van beledigende of dreigende gedrag is deur iemand waarmee jy nie ‘n huishoudelike verhouding het nie, kan dit teistering wees. As jy geteister word, kan jy aansoek doen vir ‘n Teisteringsbevel. Die volgende is belangrike feite rakende Teisteringsbevele:

  • Geen patroon is nodig nie, en ‘n eerste oortreding kan voldoende wees vir die toestaan van ‘n Teisteringsbevel.
  • Geen verhouding word vereis nie, en dit kan teen iemand wees wat jy nie ken nie.
  • Geen geweld hoef teenwoordig te wees nie.
  • Teistering sluit in: agtervolg, boodskappe, ongewenste pakkette, briewe, sielkundige skade, liggaamlike leed, finansiële skade, ens.

As jy besluit om aansoek te doen vir ‘n Teisteringsbevel sonder dat jy weet teen wie dit is, kan die Hof ‘n polisiebeampte vra om die saak te ondersoek. Die aansoek vir ‘n Teisteringsbevel vind plaas in ‘n ope hof, wat beteken dat dit nie privaat is nie – dit kan soms veroorsaak dat slagoffers nie aansoek doen om hierdie bevel nie. Sodra ‘n Teisteringsbevel toegestaan is, is dit bindend vir 5 jaar. Indien die Applikant die bevel wil terugtrek, moet die Hof tevrede wees dat die omstandighede verander het. Verbreking van ‘n Teisteringsbevel kan tot 5 jaar gevangenisstraf lei, en dit is ook dieselfde straf wat opgelê kan word vir Applikante wat die aansoek onder valse voorwendsels bring.

Dit is belangrik om te weet dat daar oplossings beskikbaar is vir slagoffers van afbrekende verhoudings. Of dit nou emosionele, fisiese of finansiële mishandeling is deur iemand wat jy ken of agtervolging en teistering deur ‘n onbekende persoon, dit het tyd geword om standpunt in te neem teen mishandeling.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies. (E&OE)

CAN SOMEBODY TAKE THE LAW INTO HIS/HER OWN HANDS?

The mandament van spolie is a summary remedy, usually issued upon urgent application, aimed at restoring control of property to the applicant from whom it was taken through unlawful self-help, without investigating the merits of the parties’ rights to control.

From the definition above it is evident that this remedy is unique, because it is not used to protect rights at all. The mandament van spolie is a unique remedy aimed at undoing the results of the taking of property by means of self-help. The idea is that people should enforce and protect their property rights by legal means and procedure, and not by self-help and force, because self-help eventually results in chaos and anarchy. For this reason it is usually said that this remedy is based upon the principle that nobody is allowed to take the law into his/her own hands. Due to its aim of restoring peace and order and discouraging self-help, the spoliation remedy does not investigate the merits of any of the parties’ interest in the property and neither of the parties is allowed to raise the question of rights. The court is simply concerned with the factual investigation, namely whether there is proof of existing control and proof of unlawful spoliation of that control. If there was in fact existing control and unlawful spoliation the court will order the spoliator to restore the spoliated control to the applicant immediately, regardless of whether that control was in fact unlawful or even legal.

The spoliation remedy is aimed at preserving peace and order in the community. People cannot be permitted to circumvent the remedy by contract. Parties to a contract cannot agree that one of them will be permitted to take property from the other without proper legal procedure. The requirements for this remedy were set out in two classic decisions that are still the most important authorities in this regard, namely Nino Bonino v De Lange 1906(T) and Yeko v Qana 1973(A).

  1. Proof that the applicant was in peaceful and undisturbed control of the property. The first requirement means that the applicant had control over the property in question. For purposes of the spoliation remedy this control must have existed “peacefully and undisturbed” for a period long enough, and in a manner stable enough, to qualify any unlawful disturbance of the peace. The requirement that the control must have been peaceful and undisturbed does not refer to its legal merits, but simply to the fact that it must have been relatively stable and enduring. If not, there can hardly be a question of disturbance of the situation.
  2. Proof that the respondent took or destroyed that control by means of unlawful self-help or spoliation. The second requirement for the spoliation remedy is that the existing peaceful and undisturbed control must have been unlawfully spoliated by the respondent.

One can, therefore, safely say that possession is 90% of the law. The reason for this is that spoliation is not permitted in our law. The person must use the legal processes at his disposal and cannot take the law into his own hands.

References:
A J van der Walt & G J Pienaar: Introduction to property law, 5th edition, pg 218-223.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)

PROTECTION ORDER

In this article we will deal with the manner in which to obtain a protection order, the possible reasons for obtaining such an order, and the consequences of disobeying the order.

A protection order is described as being a form of court order that requires a party to do, or to refrain from doing, certain acts. These orders flow from the court's injunction power to grant equitable remedies, and can deal with the following:

  • That someone should not commit any act of domestic abuse.
  • That someone should pay you rent, mortgage, or other monies, such as child support.
  • That someone should hand over firearms or dangerous weapons to the police.

If you feel that you need to protect yourself by applying for a protection order, you must apply at a court which has jurisdiction over the area where you are residing. It is also important to first phone a court and make sure on which days you can apply for a protection order, since many courts only have certain days on which they deal with the application for protection orders, unless the protection order is a matter of urgency and you feel that your life might be at risk.

Before obtaining a final protection order, you need to apply for an interim protection order. To do this, you need to apply to the court. The interim order specifies the date on which the final order will be considered. Once the final order is made, it is permanent and can only be changed by making an application to do so at the court at which it was granted. Once an interim order is granted a copy of the order must be served on the Defendant by either the police or a sheriff of the court. The Defendant then has the opportunity to defend the matter on the return date and the Magistrate has the discretion to either make it a final protection order or not.

Requesting a protection order does not mean that you are laying a charge against your abuser. You do not need to lay a criminal charge in order to obtain a protection order. However, if you are a victim of a type of domestic abuse that is also a crime, you can apply for a protection order, lay a criminal charge, or both. Some examples of abuse that are also crimes include common assault, rape, incest, attempted murder and the abuse of animals.

If your abuser breaches or breaks the conditions of the protective order, he has committed a crime, being in contempt of court. This applies even if the breach is not an actual crime, such as controlling behaviour. If the breach itself involves a crime, such as assault, then the abuser can be charged with both contempt of court and assault. If your abuser, or the person that you have the protection order against, breaches the terms of the order you should phone the police as a matter of urgency. The police will then proceed to arrest him/her.

It is important to take note that as soon as a Magistrate grants an interim protection order, the docket number will be placed in your identity document to ensure that the police are aware of this, if matters turn for the worse. It is also important that you go back to court on the return date, because if you don’t, the Magistrate will remove the interim order and the matter will be struck off the roll.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)