DALRO FAQ

DALRO - Royalties for Visual Arts

These are some of the questions about copyright that DALRO is asked most often by the public. 

If you have a question we haven't covered here, please go to the contact us section and send in your query.

FAQ about obtaining a licence

WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO PAY COPYRIGHT FEES? ISN’T INFORMATION SUPPOSED TO BE FREE?

The royalties collected by RROs find their way back to the rights’ owners, the people who have, through their mental efforts, created the intellectual property. Without reimbursement, they have little incentive to go on creating, and there would be no information. In any case, no photocopied page is free: you pay for the paper, the ink, the toner and the use of the machine. When you pay a copyright fee as well, you also pay for the content - arguably the most valuable part of the photocopied page.

How much are licencing fees if I want to reproduce a work?

Licenceing fees differ depending on the work – please contact DALRO to discuss your needs.

DO I NEED A LICENCE TO PHOTOCOPY A CHAPTER FROM A BOOK FOR MY OWN PERSONAL AND PRIVATE USE?

No. Under the fair dealing section of the South African copyright act, a user may copy, for their own study or research or private use, as much of the work as they need to meet their reasonable needs, without seeking permission from the copyright owner or paying compensation.

IS IT CORRECT THAT AS LONG AS I PHOTOCOPY 10% OR LESS OF A PUBLISHED WORK, THIS IS PERMITTED?

No, it’s not correct. The Copyright Act says nothing about ‘10%’ or about any other percentage. The test for fair dealing is qualitative as well as quantitative. Fair use is based on:

  • The purpose and character of the use
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole
  • The effect of the use on the potential market for the work

South African copyright law doesn't specify how much you may copy within the bounds of fair dealing, but it is clear that it must be for your own use, so, multiple copies are also outside of fair dealing.

Remember: If your copy deprives the rightsholder of income, then it's not fair, and you can't regard it as fair dealing.

I was told changing 10% of an artwork makes a new work, and that I don't have to worry about copyright if I've done no more than this. Is this true?

If you changed the introduction of a song, or perhaps the accompaniment, the tune will still be the same. The same goes for visual works of art – you will still require permission when creating a derivative work.

Where can I get a licence to photocopy a whole book?

DALRO may not allow the reproduction of whole books, either by a transactional licence or under a blanket licence. It's unlawful to reproduce a whole book instead of buying it.

Licensing allows numbers of students and professional employees, who would in any case not have bought the published work, to lawfully gain access to a photocopied extract from it.

I want to republish a book electronically. What should I do?

The owner of the copyright in a literary work or published edition retains all rights, including the right to create a digital edition. If you own the copyright in the work, you can go ahead. However, if you want to create a digital edition of a work and you're not the owner of the copyright, you must get permission from the copyright owner.

IF THE BOOK I WANT TO COPY FROM IS OUT OF PRINT, SURELY I CAN DO AS I PLEASE?

'Out of print' does not necessarily mean ‘out of copyright’. In South Africa, copyright lasts for 50 years after the death of the author. In addition, please remember that there are two copyrights in every published page, and while the author may own copyright in the content, the publisher owns copyright in the published edition, or the typographical arrangement on the page. Copyright in the published edition lasts for 50 years from the end of the year in which the work was first published.

BUT IF THE BOOK IS OUT OF PRINT AND UNAVAILABLE, THE PUBLISHER IS NOT LOSING ANY SALES BY MY COPYING HIS BOOK?

It is wrong to imagine that publishers and authors exploit a work only when it is in print, or that sales are the only means of exploiting a work. Long after the book is out of print it may still generate revenues for its creators through the sale of, e.g., translation rights, film rights and reprographic reproduction (photocopying) rights.

WHAT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHS, DRAWINGS, GRAPHS, MAPS AND SO ON?

These are all defined as 'artistic works' in the Copyright Act, and are copyright protected.

I found an image on the Internet - surely there is no copyright?

The image was still created by someone, who has copyright in his work. The owner of the website may have a licence to use the image - but that licence doesn’t extend to people who visit the site, unless it clearly says so. Consider the possibility that the image may have been placed on the Internet without the permission of the copyright owner.

Surely I can use photographs of out-of-copyright paintings that I find on the Internet for free?

Copyright in a photograph lasts for 50 years from the date that the photograph is made, or made public. Digital photography has been around for less than 50 years, so it's safe to assume any digital version of a photograph on the Internet is copyright protected. The copyright owner who created the digital version of the original work has copyright in a photograph, and has every right to expect compensation for the use of the work, unless he's explicitly placed it in the public domain.

WHEN MUST I PAY ROYALTIES FOR A THEATRICAL WORK?

Under all circumstances, even for charity performances and dress rehearsals with an audience. Any unauthorised performance is illegal. There's a simple rule: if there's an audience (paying or not), it's a public performance and you must pay royalties.

ARE THEATRICAL CHARITY PERFORMANCES CHARGED FOR?

Yes. The royalties are the author's income, and it's up to the author to decide how to use that income.

MAY I ALTER OR ADAPT A PLAY OR BOOK?

You need to obtain written permission before you alter, translate or adapt a play, or create a play from an existing book, story or film. This can be a very long process, and the owners of the copyright have every right to refuse permission.

May we update and modernise A PLAY OR THEATRICAL PIECE?

This is the same as adapting the show - and entirely at the discretion of the rightsholder. You need to request permission in writing first.

Why must I have permission to adapt a story/novel/film for the stage?

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to make, or authorise the making of, an adaptation of their works, e.g. the creation of a translation, or stage play. Secondary works (such as a film based on a novel) are also copyright protected.

May I perform an extract or shortened version of the show without paying royalties?

No, you'll need to get permission in advance as not all authors permit the use of extracts, and you'll still need to pay royalties.

If I bought the script or got it off the Internet, then aren't the Performance Rights and Permission to perform automatically included and free?

No. Being in possession of the material does not grant an automatic right to perform a play or a musical.

We won't be asking money for tickets, the show is free; do we still need to pay royalties?

Yes, because royalties pay the creators of the work for their work. By paying royalties you are giving an author an income, acknowledging that they created the work.

What commission does DALRO take on plays and theatricals?

For the rights administered by DALRO’s Theatrical and General Division, the administration fee is usually negotiated between DALRO and the rightsholder, ranging from 10% for professional productions to 20% amateur productions. The deducted administration fee goes towards DALRO’s running costs.

Can I read a script or listen to a musical before I decide?

Absolutely! We have fully equipped reading and listening rooms for our clients to use to decide which works they want to perform. Feel free to make an appointment to come in and browse - and we'll gladly help you choose. If you are too far from our Johannesburg offices, contact us to see what other options we can offer you, like our perusal service. Unfortunately we can generally not provide plays for perusal.

May we record our performance?

Not without permission, which you'll usually have to pay for. Please check with us if the facility is available for the work you're using.

What happens if I don’t get a licence for work I’ve reproduced?

DALRO believes copyright correctness should be encouraged through persuasion rather than litigation. We aim to nurture a copyright-compliant society that respects intellectual property. However, if we can't persuade a user to obtain a licence for the reproduction of a copyright work , DALRO would have to protect and defend the rights of its constituents.

With easy and cheap access to published works through licensing, there is no excuse for copyright infringement. Theft of intellectual property is not only against the law, but also morally unacceptable.

FAQ for Artists Seeking to Protect Their Work

How long does copyright last?

In South Africa copyright protection continues for 50 years after the year in which an author dies. Where more than one author creates a work, the work remains protected as long as one of the authors is protected.

I HAVE WRITTEN A BOOK. HOW DO I REGISTER MY COPYRIGHT?

In South Africa one does not register copyright. Copyright arises automatically. In other words, the ideas you express on the page or the computer screen become your intellectual property as you set them down in material form.

I have written a book. How do I publish it?

DALRO isn't a publishing house, nor do we act as literary agents. You should submit your manuscript to a publisher. For assistance on selecting a publisher, you may consult the Publishers' Association od South Africa's (PASA) directory or website, or an authors' association such as the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors' Association (ANFASA).

IF THERE IS NO REGISTRATION, HOW CAN I PROTECT MY WORK?

In the event of a dispute you need to have evidence to support your claims to authorship and/or ownership of the work in question.  Your attorney will need you to provide evidence that your work existed before the work in dispute, that the other party had access to your work, and (keeping in mind that ideas cannot be protected by copyright, since copyright only protects the way in which your ideas have been expressed) that your work had in fact been directly or indirectly copied from.  The key is in keeping accurate records.

HOW DO I COPYRIGHT THE NAME OF MY PLAY/BOOK/BUSINESS?

There is no copyright in a title or a name.

I have written a film/television proposal/script. Can I submit it to DALRO?

DALRO doesn't administer film or television rights. Contact an industry body such as the National Film and Video Foundation for assistance, or consult an attorney.

Why should I register my play with DALRO?

Authors generally prefer to write rather than get caught up in the drudgery of copyright administration. Registering your play with DALRO gives you the freedom to create, while the burden of protecting your work is shifted to a company with many years' of experience.

I have written a book. How do I publish it?

DALRO isn't a publishing house, nor do we act as literary agents. You should submit your manuscript to a publisher. For assistance on selecting a publisher, you may consult the Publishers' Association od South Africa's (PASA) directory or website, or an authors' association such as the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors' Association (ANFASA).

I have written a film/television proposal/script. Can I submit it to DALRO?

DALRO doesn't administer film or television rights. Contact an industry body such as the National Film and Video Foundation for assistance, or consult an attorney.

Somebody has stolen my script/book. What should I do?

You should consult an attorney.

I want to republish a book electronically. What should I do?

The owner of the copyright in a literary work or published edition retains all rights, including the right to create a digital edition. If you own the copyright in the work, you can go ahead. However, if you want to create a digital edition of a work and you're not the owner of the copyright, you must get permission from the copyright owner.

I was told changing 10% of an artwork makes a new work, and that I don't have to worry about copyright if I've done no more than this. Is this true?

If you changed the introduction of a song, or perhaps the accompaniment, the tune will still be the same. The same goes for visual works of art – you will still require permission when creating a derivative work.

I found an image on the Internet - surely there is no copyright?

The image was still created by someone, who has copyright in his work. The owner of the website may have a licence to use the image - but that licence doesn’t extend to people who visit the site, unless it clearly says so. Consider the possibility that the image may have been placed on the Internet without the permission of the copyright owner.

Surely I can use photographs of out-of-copyright paintings that I find on the Internet for free?

Copyright in a photograph lasts for 50 years from the date that the photograph is made, or made public. Digital photography has been around for less than 50 years, so it's safe to assume any digital version of a photograph on the Internet is copyright protected. The copyright owner who created the digital version of the original work has copyright in a photograph, and has every right to expect compensation for the use of the work, unless he's explicitly placed it in the public domain.

How much can I expect to earn from royalties?

Royalty fees differ for each work. Please contact DALRO to discuss your needs.

What commission does DALRO take for managing my work?

DALRO’s commission, or administration fee, for reprographic rights licensing is a standard 25% of all licence fees collected domestically. This fee is deducted from the royalties paid to both local (South African) and foreign rightsholders. For the rights administered by DALRO’s Theatrical and General Division, the administration fee is usually negotiated between DALRO and the rightsholder, ranging from 10% for professional productions to 20% amateur productions. The deducted administration fee goes towards DALRO’s running costs.

Somebody has stolen my script/book. What should I do?

You should consult an attorney.

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