AI and the law in SA

An AI algorithm, or more specifically the written code, encompassing both the source code and object code, would be categorised as a “computer program” under South African laws and is protected by the law of copyright. The point of departure in the law of copyright is that ownership of original work shall vest in the author, or in the case of joint authorship, in the co-authors of the work. It is therefore critical to identify who the author is. In respect of a computer program, the Copyright Act, No 98 of 1978 (Copyright Act) states that the author is the “person who exercised control over the making of the computer program”.

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