Media24 Books appeal to the SCA after the Western Cape High Court threw out its copyright action against Oxford University Press‚ which it claimed had copied its English-Afrikaans children’s dictionary, was dismissed with costs by Judge Malcolm Wallis‚ sitting with four other judges. A TimesLIVE report says the case – thought to be only the second dictionary copyright row to have come to court anywhere in the world – had its roots in 2011‚ when Media24 started work on a new Aanleerderswoordeboek.

Examining the rival Oxford Woordeboek‚ it concluded that to a ‘substantial extent’ it had been copied from its own previous edition‚ said Wallis. But Wallis said Media24 had failed to prove that the Oxford dictionary’s three compilers had copied the rival dictionary. They did not know each other; they were highly qualified lexicographers who would not have risked their reputations; and the ‘plagiarism’ was limited to less than 10% of the dictionary. ‘It seemed on the surface to be a situation of nothing to gain and everything to lose‚’ said Wallis‚ and the possibility that each of them had independently decided to plagiarise the Aanleerderswoordeboek was ‘vanishingly small’.

Full TimesLIVE report

Media 24 Books (Pty) Ltd v Oxford University Press SA (Pty) Ltd