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I made use of a company on one occasion and do not actually need their services in future. However, I am worried about the personal information which I provided them in the course of my dealings. I do not want them to share my information with advertisers or sell it to another company. How does the law protect me?

The fundamental legislation regulating this issue is the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2003 (“POPI”) which, as the title alludes, regulates the processing of personal information in order to protect individuals’ constitutional right to privacy. The Act is not yet in force, even though it has been signed into law since 19 November 2013. However, once POPI comes into effect, all public and private bodies who process (collect, store, transmit, alter, delete, etc.) personal information will have 1 year to comply with the requirements of the Act.

POPI requires that all personal information be processed on the basis of core principles, failing which the processing of personal information will be unlawful. The Act requires accountability from all private and public bodies which process personal information. The Act further only allows for limited processing of personal information i.e. the processing must be reasonable, lawful and minimal. In other words, personal information may only be processed where this is relevant to the purpose for which the information was collected and it must further not be excessive so as to infringe the privacy of the individual.

Furthermore, the information must be collected only for a “specific, explicitly defined and lawful purpose that is related to a function or activity”. The private or public bodies which process personal information must also take reasonably practical steps to ensure that the personal information is “complete, accurate, not misleading and updated where necessary”.

Importantly, POPI requires that you be notified every time your personal information is collected and you must be informed of the purpose thereof. An individual may also enquire whether an organisation has collected any of their personal information. You may then further request a record of this information, request that such personal information be corrected or even be deleted.

The most important requirement under POPI is that an organisation must keep an individual’s personal information secure. Therefore, the organisation must prevent loss/damage to the personal information as well as prevent unlawful access thereto. Where someone accesses this information unlawfully, the organisation is under a duty to report this. POPI goes so far that an organisation may not, for example, outsource a business function without a written agreement whereby the third party agrees to adhere to the above conditions.

Organisations which do not comply with POPI are committing an offence in terms of which they may be charged with an administrative fine or the information officer of that organisation may be imprisoned.  The fines may not exceed R10 million and imprisonment may not exceed 10 years.

It is evident that POPI goes to great lengths in an attempt to safeguard the privacy of individuals. Naturally, this means that great obligations are placed on organisations to lawfully process personal information.

Should you wish to know more about the rights and duties of individuals and organisations under POPI, contact our offices.

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)




a1_aWhenever 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 2011. Information and Communication Technology Services. The University of Cape Town. Copyright Guidelines. [online] Available at: modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4749/
[Accessed 25/05/2016]. South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law. Copyright. [online] Available at:
[Accessed 25/05/2016]. Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. Copyright. [online] Available at:
[Accessed 25/05/2016].

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)



A3BIn 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.