King v SA Weather Service
 2 All SA 31 (SCA)
THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL
27 November 2008
LTC HARMS ADP, A CACHALIA, TD CLOETE JJA, BM GRIESEL and LE
2009 (3) SA 13 (SCA)
. Editor's Summary . Cases Referred to . Judgment .
Intellectual property law Copyright Authorship Ownership of copyright Copyright Act 98 of 1978 Section 21(1)(d)
Work made in the course of employee's contract in the course and scope of employment is owned by employer.
The appellant had been dismissed from his employment with the respondent after being fund guilty of
insubordination. The charge related to the source codes of computer programmes developed by the appellant,
which he refused to hand over to the respondent.
Prior to his dismissal, the appellant informed the respondent that he was the author of the programmes in
question, and that they had not been written in the course and scope of his employment with the respondent. On
the assumption that he might have authorised the respondent to use his programmes, he gave notice of the
termination of any licence with effect from 30 June 2002. The respondent did not comply with his demand and about
a year later he instituted action claiming an interdict and damages.
Held The case concerned issues of copyright (including authorship, originality, and ownership), and fell within the
ambit of the Copyright Act 98 of 1978.
The Court began by considering whether, in terms of section 21(1)(d) of the Act, the computer programmes were
authored by the appellant in the course of his employment with the respondent under a contract of service.
Examining the appellant's duties whilst in the respondent's employ, the court found that he was required to collect
and collate meteorological data and transmit it to head office for analysis and storing. He developed his
programmes for that purpose. The programmes were not created for external use by others, but were purely work
related. The respondent prescribed the format of the programmes and had to approve of them before they could be
implemented and used in the system.
Concluding that the programmes had been made in the course of the appellant's employment, the court
dismissed the appeal.
For Intellectual property law see:
LAWSA First reissue Vol 29
Cases referred to in judgment
Bezuidenhout NO v Eskom  1 All SA 411 (2003 (3) SA 83) (SCA)
Biotech Laboratories (Pty) Ltd v Beecham Group Plc  3 All SA 652
(2002 (4) SA 249) (SCA)
Page 32 of  2 All SA 31 (SCA)
Haupt t/a Soft Copy v Brewers Marketing Intelligence (Pty) Ltd
2006 (4) SA 458 (SCA)
Memory Institute SA CC t/a SA Memory Institute v Hansen and others
 JOL 11019 (2004 (2) SA 630) (SCA)
Théberge v Galerie d'Art du Petit Champlain Inc 2002 SCC 34,  2
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland