Copyright and Sasol New Signatures

Copyright in the Visual Arts is a rather complex issue, and this Fact Sheet will cover only the essential definitions and principles.  It is advised that artists research the topic further to ensure that their artwork does not infringe on any copyright laws, as well as understanding how to protect their own rights. A useful website concerning copyright in South Africa is

What is copyright?

Copyright law protects copyright owners from the unauthorized copying of their works.  Copyright infringement happens when someone copies or adapts a work of copyright without the copyright owner’s permission. Copyright permission needs to be obtained from the copyright owner, who may or may not be the artist, as in the case of deceased estates managing the artist’s legacy.

Duration of copyright

Copyright lasts for the lifetime of the artist, plus 50-70 years (country dependent) after their death. After this period the work falls into the public domain.

What is the public domain?

This term broadly refers to creative works which are not covered by intellectual property rights, where these have expired or have been explicitly waived.  Works in public domain may be used freely without obtaining permission.

Common examples of copyright infringement include:

  • Unauthorised use of images protected by copyright
  • Blatant copying of images on social media and the internet
  • Submission of artworks which are clearly the work of another artist
  • Closely related is the issue of consent by models. For information on the Model Release Statement, consult the Model Release Fact Sheet.

Copyright in the competition

By signing the entry form, you…

  • Acknowledge that the work is your own, original work and does not constitute any infringement on copyright.
  • Grant the organisers the non-exclusive license to exercise, royalty free, the full and complete rights of copyright in the artistic work/s, including the right to communicate the artistic work/s and/or an adaptation thereof to the public electronically, including placing it on the internet and on social media.  This license is granted for the full duration of the copyright in the artistic work/s.
  • If any copyright disputes arise, the artist indemnifies the organisers against any claim, and the artist will be solely responsible for resolving the dispute.


Copyright infringements are a serious offence and could result in legal disputes with hefty financial implications but may also damage the artist’s reputation irreparably.Copyright infringements in the competition will lead to the submissions being disqualified.  Ensure that your work is always above suspicion.

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