Copyrights and Moral rights
By Chanel Roux

What you need to know about Copyrights and Moral rights

What should authors and illustrators know before they put their work of art out there? Nobody thinks about the small artwork in the corner, but there are certain things to know before you publish.

Here are some tips that you need to know:

Copyrights are legal protection against unauthorised use of someone else’s creations that require credit and recognition for that author’s contributions. If you’ve created or developed anything, you can give someone else the rights to it because copyright is something that can be transferred. So, the person has the right to use the example for their own purposes. But you need publishing rights if you want to copy the artwork. Reproductions may be sold; in which case these are copies or scans of the artwork. Just note that you need to be able to demonstrate that you were the author from the beginning or have the copyrights to reproduce the artwork. A paper trail is crucial in this situation.

The copyright owner’s exclusive rights may be transferred to another party in whole or in part under the terms of publishing rights, but such a transfer must be made in writing and bear the owner’s signature to be recognised. An authorised representative of the copyright holder may also sign the document. Subsidiary rights allow the ability to market a book as games, eBooks, posters, and toys. Either you, the author, assign all your rights to the publisher, or you retain some of your rights. The agreement between the author and publisher is the most crucial aspect of copyrights. What matters is what is written in the agreement between the two parties in a legal-binding contract.

How can I copyright my work? If you can prove that it was your work that you completed on your own time and with your own resources, you automatically have the rights. Digital works have meta-data that can be tracked as proof that the work has a creator, a creation date and digital location.

Moral rights cannot be assigned or transferred while the owner is still alive, even though beneficiaries and personal representatives may use them after death. Moral rights are the provisions of copyright laws that protect the authors’ legal rights. According to copyright laws, work creators are protected by moral rights, which include the freedom to publish under a given name or stay anonymous, to make money off the work, and to get credit for the work.

How can I protect my work? In South Africa, trademarking is challenging, expensive, and requires a long paper trail. Even if a design may be covered by copyright, its underlying idea is not. You have no control over someone copying your concept and using it in a different way. The only method to prevent someone from stealing your work is to file a legal claim against them.

Please get in touch with if you are an author looking for assistance with your book.

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