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Copy Rights

What is Copyright ?

Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work..

Why should copyright be protected ?

Copyright ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. Creativity being the keystone of progress, no civilized society can afford to ignore the basic requirement of encouraging the same. Economic and social development of a society is dependent on creativity. The protection provided by copyright to the efforts of writers, artists, designers, dramatists, musicians, architects and producers of sound recordings, cinematography and computer software, creates an atmosphere conducive to creativity, which induces them to create more and motivates others to create. 

What is the scope of protection in the Copyright Act, 1957 ?

The Copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. Unlike the case with patents, copyright protects the expressions and not the ideas. There is no copyright in an idea.

What are the classes of works for which copyrights protection is available in India ?

Copyright subsists throughout India in the following classes of works:

  • Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works;
  • Cinematograph films; and
  • Sound recordings

What is a cinematograph film ?

" Cinematograph film ? means any work of visual recording on any medium produced through a process from which a moving image may be produced by any means and includes a sound recording accompanying such visual recording and " cinematograph " shall be construed as including any work produced by any process analogous to cinematography including video films.

What is an India work ?

" Indian work " means a literary, dramatic or musical work,

  • The author of which is a citizen of India; or
  • Which is first published in India; or
  • The author of which, in the case of an unpublished work is, at the time of the making of the work, a citizen of India.

Whose rights are protected by Copyright ?

Copyright protects the rights of authors, i.e. creators of intellectual property in the form of literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings. 

Who is the owner of copyright in works by journalists during the course of their employment ?

In the case of a literary, dramatic or artistic work made by the author in the course of his employment by the proprietor of a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical under a contract of service or apprenticeship, for the purpose of publication in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, the said proprietor shall, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, be the first owner of the copyright in the work in so far as the copyright relates to the publication of the work in any newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, or to the reproduction of the work for the purpose of its being so published, but in all other respects the author shall be the first owner of the copyright in the work. 

What are the rights in a cinematograph film ?

In the case of a cinematograph film, copyright means the exclusive right

  • To make a copy of the film including a photograph of any image forming part thereof
  • To sell or give on hire or offer for sale or hire a copy of the film
  • To communicate the cinematograph film to the public.

What are the rights of a performer in a cinematograph film ? 

Once a performer has consented for incorporation of his performance in a cinematograph film, he shall have no more performer's rights to that performance.

Does copyright subsist in a foreign work ?

Copyright of nationals or countries who are members of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Universal Copyright Convention and the TRIPS Agreement are protected in India through the International Copyright Order.

What are the civil remedies for copyright infringement ? 

A copyright owner can take legal action against any person who infringes the copyright in the work. The copyright owner is entitled to remedies by way of injunctions, damages and accounts.

Which is the court having jurisdiction over civil remedies in copyright cases ? 

The District Court concerned has the jurisdiction in civil suits regarding copyright infringement.

Is Copyright infringement a criminal offense ?

Yes. Any person who knowingly infringes or abets the infringement of the copyright in any work commits criminal offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act.

What are the punishments for a criminal offense under the copyright law ?

The minimum punishment for infringement of copyright is imprisonment for six months with the minimum fine of Rs.50,000/-. In the case of a second and subsequent conviction the minimum punishment is imprisonment for one year and fine of Rs. one lakh.

Is copyright infringement a cognizable offense ?

Any police officer, not below the rank of a sub-inspector, may, if he is satisfied that an offense in respect of the infringement of copyright in any work has been, is being, or is likely to be committed, seize without warrant, all copies of the work and all plates used for the purpose of making infringing copies of the work, wherever found, and all copies and plates so seized shall, as soon as practicable be produced before a magistrate.

Can a police officer seize infringing goods without warrant ?

Yes. A police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector can seize without warrant all infringing copies of the work.

Term of Copyright

Is Copyright protected in perpetuity ?

No. It is protected for a limited period of time.

What is the term of protection of copyright ?

The general rule is that copyright lasts for 60 years. In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the 60 year period is counted from the year following the death of the author. In the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organizations, the 60 year period is counted from the date of publication.