Briefing on Copyright Flexibilities in South Africa

Posted: 18 Apr 2016 Last revised: 5 May 2016

Date Written: April 4, 2016


South Africa has a statutory copyright law framework. The Copyright Act, 98 of 1978, is an outdated piece of legislation which has its genesis in the country’s pre-democratic past, during which the government rejected the classification of the country as a developing nation. Consequently, the legislature copied provisions verbatim from the United Kingdom, a developed nation, and failed to make full use of flexibilities available for developing nations. There is a closed list of statutory exceptions including fair dealing that are simultaneously narrow and vague but there is one notable exception; quotation in accordance with fair practise (s12(3)). There is no case law on the various limitations and exceptions. Intermediaries such as publishers advance a very different interpretation of exceptions to interpretations by librarians, educators and the like.

Keywords: Copyright, Exceptions, Limitations, Flexibilities, South Africa

Suggested Citation

Rens, Andrew and Ncube, Caroline B., Briefing on Copyright Flexibilities in South Africa (April 4, 2016). Available at SSRN:

Caroline B. Ncube (Contact Author)

University of Cape Town ( email )

Private Bag
Rondebosch 7701
South Africa


No contact information is available for Andrew Rens

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