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What is the purpose of Copyright Laws in Zimbabwe?


Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. In other words, intellectual property rights protect tangible creations of ideas and not merely designs when they are still in their premature form as thoughts. Intellectual Property rights give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period.

Intellectual property is defined as something that you create using your mind - for example, a story, an invention, an artistic work or a symbol.   [1]

Intellectual property rights are divided into two categories which are: industrial property and copyright. This article will touch on Copyright laws in Zimbabwe.

Copyright is a real right, which means that it can be enforced against the whole world. In Zimbabwe, the law governing this is called the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act [Chapter 26:05]. The rights of authors of literary and artistic works (such as books and other writings, musical compositions, paintings, sculpture, computer programs and films) are protected by copyright.Also protected through copyright and related (sometimes referred to as “neighbouring”) rights, are the rights of performers (e.g. actors, singers and musicians), producers of phonograms (sound recordings) and broadcasting organizations.

The main social purpose of protection of copyright and related rights is to encourage and reward creative work[2]. If one registers a Copyright over a work in Zimbabwe, it entitles the owner to an exclusive right to use or publish the work in Zimbabwe or to give permission to others in Zimbabwe to do the same.

The duration of time that a copyright lasts for varies depending on the type of work that has a copyright, for example a published edition’s copyright protection lasts for fifty years and a literary, musical or artistic work lasts for a lifetime of the author plus fifty years from the year the author dies[3].

 Copyright offers protection to the author of the work by forbidding others from imitation of the work, publishing, performing the work in public etc[4], for written and musical pieces of work. An example of when copyright protected a musician’s work from being used without consent in Zimbabwe is when the popular musician Pastor Charamba removed the popular musician known as ‘Jah Signal’s song from Youtube based on copyright infringement that the artist had committed by using the original sound in Pastor Charamba and the Fisher of Men song titled ‘Kana Vanhu Vangu’ original sound in his 2018 song, ‘Sweetie’, without permission.

In conclusion, it is submitted that the perception of Intellectual Property certainly varies from one organization or person to another. One might view IP rights from the perspective of using it as a safeguard against competition while others might be completely dependent on their Intellectual Property for their revenue. Quoting a White House statement (2009), he said: “Intellectual property is to the digital age what physical goods were to the industrial age.”







[3] Section 15 of the Copy Right Act

[4]Section 17 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Act

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