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Copyright protection in Botswana


Botswana inherited the Copyright Act of 1965 from her colonial administration, Britain. The Act of 1965 was repealed by the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, of 2000. A number of short comings were identified leading to the Amendment of the Act in 2005 which commenced in 2006.
Requirements For Copyright Protection In Botswana/ How To Get Copyright Protection In Botswana

The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act provides that for a work to be protected in Botswana, it must have been created, published, recorded, performed (or fixed), or broadcast in Botswana; OR that the author or creator of a work is a Botswana national or habitant of the country; OR that Botswana has an obligation to grant such protection to the creator, author or right owner by virtue of being party to an international convention or other international agreement. [Section 35].

Section 3(1) provides that: “A literary and artistic work shall not be considered as a work protected by copyright under this Act unless it is an original intellectual creation in the literary and artistic domain.” This means that a work must have been created independently without copying another work.

As per Section 3(2) of the Act, literary and artistic works include:-

(a) books, pamphlets, articles, computer programmes and other writings;

(b) speeches, lectures, addresses, sermons and other oral works;

(c) dramatic works, dramatic – musical works, pantomimes, choreographic works and other works created for stage productions;

(d) stage productions of works referred to in paragraph (a) and of expressions of folklore;

(e) musical works with or without accompanying words;

(f) audiovisual works;

(g) works of architecture;

(h) work of drawing, painting, sculpture, engraving, lithography, tapestry and other works of fine arts;

(i) photographic works;

(j) works of applied art; and

(k) illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science.

For a work to be protected in Botswana it needs not to be fixed in a tangible medium. For example, someone who stands up and orates a poem without first writing it on a piece of paper is protected by law. Section 6(1) provides that: “A work shall be protected under the Act by the sole fact of its creation and irrespective of its mode or form of expression, as well as its content, quality and purpose.”
Term of protection

The table below presents term of protection for copyright [Section 10] and neighbouring rights [Sections 24(6), 25(2) and 27(2)] as provided by the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act:

Right owner /Type of work

Term of protection




Life plus fifty (50) years after death

Joint authorship

Life plus fifty (50) years after the death of the last surviving author. 

Audiovisual works

Fifty (50) years from the date on which the work was made, first made available to the public or first published, whichever date is the latest.

Photographic works/ Works of Applied Art

Twenty five (25) years from the making of work

Work published anonymously

Fifty (50) years from the date on which the work was made first available to the public or first published.

Neighbouring Rights


Performer’s rights

  • Fifteen (15) years from fixation of the performance. Or
  • Fifteen (15) years from performance of the work where fixation does not exist

Rights of Producers of sound recordings

  • Fifteen (15) years from publication. Or
  • Fifteen (15) years from fixation where the work has not been published.

Rights of Broadcasters

  • Fifteen (15) years from the moment the broadcast takes place.


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