August 1, 2021

Copyright Law

Copyright is a bundle of rights given by the law to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and the producers of cinematography films and sound recording. A Copyright is an intellectual property right granted by a government that gives the owner exclusive rights to use, with some limited exceptions, original expressive work. The rights provided under Copyright Law include the rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaption and translation of the work. There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work.

Copyright Law protects expressions of ideas rather than the ideas themselves. Copyright refers to a bundle of exclusive rights vested in the owner of copyright by virtue of section 14 of The Copyright Act, 1957. These rights can be exercised only by the owner of copyright or by any other person who is duly licensed in this regard by the owner of copyright. Copyright protection is conferred on all original literary, artistic, musical or dramatic, cinematography and sound recording works. Original means that the work has not been copied from any other source.

As per section 17 of The Copyright Act, 1957, the author or creator of the work is the first owner of copyright. An exception to this rule is that, the employer becomes the owner of copyright in circumstances where the employee creates a work in the course of and scope of employment.

Copyright ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. The protection provided by copyright to the efforts of writers, artists, designers, dramatists, musicians, architects and producers of sound recordings, cinematograph films and computer software, creates an atmosphere conducive to creativity, which induces them to create more and motivates others to create.

Copyright in a work is considered as infringed only if a substantial part is made use of unauthorizedly. For example, if a lyricist copy a very catching phrase from another lyricist’s song, there is likely to be infringement even if that phrase is very short.

Copyright registration is invaluable to a copyright holder who wishes to take a civil or criminal action against the infringer. Registration formalities are simple and the paperwork is least. In case, the work has been created by a person other than employee, it would be necessary to file with the application a copy of the assignment deed.

Does copyright apply to titles and names? Copyright does not ordinarily protect titles by themselves or names, short word combinations, slogans, short phrases, methods, plots or factual information. Copyright doesnot protect ideas or concepts.


Copyright aren’t same for all the classes of work. The rights vary according to the class of work.


The Copyright Act, 1957 provides copyright protection in India. It confers copyright protection in the two of the following forms:-

A. Economic Rights of the author, and

B. Moral Rights of the author.

A. Economic Rights: The copyright subsists in original literacy, dramatic, musical and artistic works; cinematography films and sound recordings. The authors of copyright in the aforesaid works enjoy economic rights u/s 14 of the Act.

B. Moral Rights: Section 57 of the Act defines the two basic morals rights of an author. These are:

i. Right of paternity, and

ii. Right of integrity.

The right of paternity refers to a right of an author to claim authorship of work and a right to prevent all others from claiming authorship of his work. Right of integrity empowers the author to prevent distortion, mutilation or other alterations of his work, or any other action in relation to said work which would be prejudicial to his honour or reputation.

Copyright is assignable. The owner of the copyright in an exciting work or the prospective owner of the copyright in a future work may assign to any person the copyright either wholly or partially and either generally or subject to limitations and either for the whole term of the copyright or any part thereof. The mode of assigning copyright shall be in writing signed by the assignor or by his duly authorized agent. It shall identify the specific works and specify the rights assigned and the duration and territorial extent of such assignment. It shall also specify the amount of royalty payable, if any, to the author or his legal heirs during the currency of the assignment and the assignment shall be subject to revision, extension or termination on terms mutually agreed upon by the parties.


It is not necessary to register a work to claim copyright. Acquisition of copyright is automatic and it does not require any formality. However, certificate of registration of copyright and the entries made therein serve as prima facie evidence in a court of law with reference to dispute relating to ownership of copyright.

Procedure for Registration of a Work Under The Copyright Act, 1957:

Copyright comes into existence as soon as a work is created and no formality is required to be completed for acquiring copyright. However, facilities exist for having the work registered in the Register of Copyrights maintained in the Copyright Office of the department of education. The entries made in the Register of Copyrights serve as prima facie evidence in the court of law. The Copyright Office has been set up to provide registration facilities to all types of words and is headed by a Registrar of Copyright.


Copyright is not protected in perpetuity. It is protected for a limited period of time.

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 organisations, the 60-year period is counted from the date of publication.


There is an advisory body on copyright matters. The government has set up a Copyright Enforcement Advisory Council (CEAC).

There are no special courts for copyright cases. The regular courts try these cases. There is a Copyright Board to adjudicate certain cases pertaining to copyright.

The Copyright Act provides for a quasi judicial body called the Copyright Board consisting of a Chairman and two or more, but not exceeding fourteen, other members for adjudicating certain kinds of copyright cases. The Chairman of the Board is of the level of a judge of a High Court.

In many cases, it is necessary to obtain licences from more than one society. For example, playing of the sound recording of music may involve obtaining a license from the IPRS for the public performance of the music as well as a license from the PPL for playing the records, if these societies have the particular work in their repertoire.


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.1 lakh.

Author Details: Sanyam Grover (Punjabi University, Patiala (Aryans College Of Law))

The views of the author are personal only. (if any)


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