Copyright and International Documentary Film


Overview of PIJIP's Work on Copyright and Documentary Filmmaking in Africa

This project aims to explore the problems that current interpretationsof South African Copyright law pose to the development of the documentary film industry, and opportunities to address these problems through changes in law or the practice of filmmakers. It is a partnership between the Ford Foundation, South Africa filmmaker organizations, and PIJIP.

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Untold Stories in South Africa: Creative Consequences of the Rights Clearance Culture for Documentary Filmmakers

This report summarizes research on the perceptions of South African documentary filmmakers about copyright clearance requiremens and their effect on filmmakers' work. It is the culmination of a survey conducted by South African filmmaker organizations, and a workshop held in Cape Town in March 2009. 


User's Rights and Wrongs: The Copyright Clearance Culture and Documentary Film in South Africa

This video shows highlights from the March 2009 workshop with South African filmmakers at which the filmmaker survey results were presented.  It illustrates a lack of familiarity of limtations and exceptions to copyright among many documentary filmmakers.

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Commissioned Papers on Copyright Flexibilities in Six Nations

PIJIP commissioned a series of papers by copyright experts in six nations at different levels of development. The papers cover the extent of fair use and/or fair dealing exceptions to copyright allowed under the laws of Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Canada, and Australia.

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Survey on Copyright for South African Filmmakers

Conducted by the Documentary Filmmakers Association and the Black Filmmakers Network from 2008 to 2009, this survey elicited stories and views to inform filmmakers and decision makers about some of the key problems that filmmakers face in making films that rely on access to copyrighted footage.


Background Documents on Flexibilities to Copyright for Documentary Film

Law students at PIJIP have compiled a collection of reports, academic articles, news stories, court cases and laws on limitations and exceptions to copyright in various settings.  This page contains a selection of these legal resources, as well as links to filmmaker organizations and other groups interested in copyright clearance.   


Please send corrections or suggestions to PIJIP Research Coordinator Mike Palmedo at

Map of the African Continent placed in the public domain under an open license. Photo of African film festival posted on under a Creative Commons license by Flykr. Photos of participants from the March 2009 meeting in Cape Town are from the Documentary Filmmakers' Association.