Prosecuting and punishing copyright infringements in South Africa: A comment on the Copyright Amendment Bill, B13B-2017

Author: Jamil Ddamulira Mujuzi

ISSN: 1996-2118
Affiliations: LLB (Makerere) LLM (Pretoria) LLM (Free State) LLD (Western Cape), Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 33 Issue 3, p. 731 – 751


Section 27(6) of the Copyright Act provides for penalties to be imposed on those convicted of infringing copyright. In terms of s 27(6), a person who infringes copyright is liable to be sentenced to a fine or to imprisonment or to both a fine and imprisonment. The Copyright Amendment Bill (which was passed by parliament in early 2019), introduces, amongst other things, minimum sentences for juristic persons convicted of infringing copyright. The purposes of this article are: to highlight high court decisions dealing with the prosecution of people who have infringed copyright; recommend ways in which copyright owners may invoke their right to institute a private prosecution as one of the means to protect their rights; highlight the limitations of the right to institute a private prosecution; and to highlight the challenges that are likely to be faced in the implementation of the minimum sentences introduced by the Copyright Amendment Bill.