About Copyright Law
Motion pictures and other films and television programmes (collectively referred to in legislation as audiovisual works) that are available for rental or purchase are intended for personal, private, home use only. If you wish to show the work in any place where the general non-paying public can view the films, you must have a separate licence that specifically authorises the public performance of that work.
In terms of the Copyright Act of 1978:
- Only the copyright owner holds the exclusive right to perform the copyrighted work publicly.
- The rental or purchase of a motion picture or other audiovisual work does not bear the right to perform the copyrighted work publicly.
- Films may be shown without a separate licence in the home to a normal circle of family and its social acquaintances because such showings are not considered “public”.
- Even performances in places such as private clubs, lodges, factories and schools are ‘public performances’ subject to copyright control.
- Both for-profit organisations and non-profit institutions must secure a licence to show films, regardless of whether an admission fee is charged.
Non-compliance with the Copyright Act is considered infringement and carries steep and significant penalties for both the exhibitor and anyone that contributes to the infringing conduct. Unlicensed public performances can be subject to civil damages claims, as well as to payment of costs of legal proceedings. Infringements of the Copyright Act can carry penalties of R5000 and/or 3 months imprisonment per title.