Zimbabwe/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

Copyright Law in Zimbabwe is provided for under the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act [Chapter 26:05] 2000 (“the Act”) and the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Regulations, 2006 (“the Regulations”). Works which are eligible for copyright protection in terms of Section 10 of the Act include a literary work, audio-visual work, musical work, artistic work, sound recording, broadcasts, programme carrying signals and published editions.  The rights of the author, performer or producer are thus acquired by virtue of the creation of a work, by contract or by license. Copyright may also be transferred through assignment, testamentary disposition or operation of law (s 45). However, registration of works with the Copyright Society helps the authentication of ownership of copyright.

Exclusive economic and moral Rights of copyright owners

Zimbabwean Copyright laws provide copyright owners with both exclusive economic and moral rights.  The copyright owners enjoy the economic rights in terms of Section 17 (a – h) of the Copyright. These rights include right of reproducing the work, publication, importing the work into Zimbabwe or exporting the work out of Zimbabwe otherwise than for the personal and private use of the person importing or exporting it, performing the work in public, broadcasting the work, causing the work to be transmitted in a cable program service unless the service transmits a lawful broadcast including the work and is operated by the original broadcaster, making an adaptation of the work, except in the case of a computer programme, publishing an adaptation of the program and by way of business, to directly or indirectly selling or renting a copy of the program or offering or exposing a copy of the program for sale or hire.

The Act also provides for exclusive moral rights of a copyright owner in Zimbabwe in terms of Sections 61 and 64. These rights cover the author’s rights to be identified as the author of the work and right to object to depreciating treatment of work.  In terms of section 67 of the Act, moral rights are absolute and are enforced regardless of the identity of the holder of the rights in the copyright.

Protection of Neighbouring Rights

Section 77 of the Act also provides for enforcement of neighbouring rights - namely performers’ and producers’ rights. The former rights encompass an author’s rights to making a recording of a performance, remuneration for commercial use of a sound recording of a performance or the broadcasting of a performance live. On the other hand, producers’ include the rights to make a recording of a performance or broadcasting a performance. In terms of Section 79 of the Act, producers and performers of sound recordings are also entitled to moral rights similar to those which owners of copyright enjoy. In terms of Section 15 of the Act copyright is protected for the life of the author and 50 years after the death of the author In the case of joint authorship, the terms of protection is 50 years after the death of the last surviving author.


  • Protection of Foreign Works in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the W.T.O. Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. In terms of the Berne Convention Zimbabwe is obliged to accord protection to works of foreign nationals who are also members of the Berne Convention and give them the same treatment accorded to Zimbabwean copyright owners. A foreign national’s work may also protected as provided for in the contracts of reciprocal agreements signed by the copyright societies with other societies in foreign countries.

  • Limitations and exceptions to copyright protection

There are some limitations and exceptions to exclusive enjoyment or copyright in terms of Sections 24-44 as read with section 74 of the Act. In other words, the provisions allow for unrestricted use of copyrighted material. The exceptions are limitations are not absolute but apply, among other situations, to use of copyrighted material in private studies/ educational purpose, research, parliamentary or judicial proceedings, news reporting criticism or review, demonstration purposes, advertising or sale and informatory purposes.

  • Infringement of copyright and remedies

This takes place when a person other than the copyright owner does or causes to be done such acts which breach the exclusive rights of the owner (s59). Examples of infringement include making copies, publication of a work, importing or exporting other than for private use, transmitting infringing copies to the public.  Civil remedies for infringement are provided for in terms of Section 52 and 53 of the Act by way of both civil and criminal interventions. Civil remedies include a Court injunction, damages calculated based on the amount of a reasonable royalty which would have been payable to the owner taking into circumstances of the infringement, additional/ exemplary damages as the court may deem fit, an account of profits, delivery up of infringing copies, forfeiture of infringing goods or attachment of property of the infringer.

In terms of Section 59 of the Act, any person found guilty of infringing the provisions of the copyright law is punishable by imprisonment for a period of two years or a fine not exceeding level ten or both. 

Chapter published: 07-04-2015