ARTRIGHT is a project established to promote professional practice and business acumen in the South African visual arts community.

Who owns copyright?

Content adapted by Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys

Apart from a few important exceptions which are discussed below, the owner of the copyright in a work is generally the creator or author of the work. 

Important exceptions to this general rule include: 

  •      - where a person commissions the taking of a photograph, the painting or drawing of a 
  •        portrait, the making of a gravure, a cinematographic film or a sound recording, and 
  •        pays or agrees to pay for it in money or money’s worth, such person is, subject to 
  •        certain provisions, the owner of any copyright subsisting in the work; 
  •      - where a work is made in the course of the creator’s or author’s employment by 
  •        another person under a contract of service or apprenticeship, that other person is the 
  •        owner of any copyright subsisting in the work; 
  •      - in the case of a computer program the author and owner of the copyright is "the 
  •        person who exercised control over the making of the computer program"; 
  •      - where the work is made under the direction or control of the State or any international 
  •        organisation prescribed under the Copyright Act, the State or that international  
  •        organisation is the owner of any copyright subsisting in the work; and 
  •      - where the creator or author has assigned the copyright to another person.

To avoid any uncertainty of who the copyright will belong to, it is good practice to state in your contract who the copyright will belong to. This can be stipulated in an invoice, sale agreement, commissioning agreement, a consignment agreement and so on. 

The simple clause is as follows "The Artist reserves all reproduction rights, including the right to claim statutory copyright in the Work."