This dissertation is animated by an interest in the investigation required to establish whether a specific work, be it a literary work, artistic work or published edition, created prior to the enactment of the current South African Copyright Act 98 of 1978, is eligible for copyright protection today. The main objective is to outline the historical development of the transitional provisions provided in South African copyright legislation and the approach adopted by our courts when applying them.
This study aims to re-interrogate the application of the transitional provisions to pre-1979 works with a specific focus on the re-evaluation of the opinion and approach set forth by O.H. Dean in the year 1988, regarding the application of the transitional provisions and how the courts should go about implementing these provisions. This re-interrogation requires investigating which provisions should be considered in establishing whether pre-1979 works are presently eligible for copyright protection, in what context and manner those provisions are applicable and how our courts have, in reported case law, gone about implementing them.
In order to conduct the aforementioned investigation, the provisions should first be placed in their historical context, which requires tracing the historical development and impact of the copyright transitional provisions first provided in the 1916 Act, to those presently provided in the 1978 Act.