Copyright is an intellectual property that gives exclusive right to reproduce or authorize another to reproduce artistic, dramatic, literary, or musical works. It also extends to sound broadcasting and cinematographic films. Copyright protection is limited to author’s particular expression of idea, process and concept in a tangible medium. However, law permits fair use.

To be copyrighted, a work must show certain minimum levels of creativity and originality. Copyright protection is not granted for an abstract idea nor can facts be copyrighted. Only author’s manner of expressing the idea or compiling the facts can be copyrighted.

Things that are protected under Copyright

  1. Cinematography film
  2. Sound recording
  3. Musical work & Sound recording
  4. Artistic work like paintings, photographs
  5. Original literary others
  6. Books
  7. Computer programs
  8. Website 
  9. Broadcasts on Radio and Television
  10. Published editions

Definition of Copyright

Section 14 of the Act defines the term “Copyright” as to mean the exclusive right to do or authorize the doing of the following acts in respect of a work or any substantial part thereof, namely-

In case of literary, dramatic, or musical work:

  1. Reproducing the work in any material form which includes storing of it in any medium by electronic means;
  2. Issuing copies of the work to the public which are not already in circulation;
  3. Performing the work in public or communicating it to the public;
  4. Making any cinematographic film or sound recording in respect of the work;
  5. Making any translation or adaptation of the work. Further, any of the above-mentioned acts in relation to work can be done in the case of translation or adaptation of the work.

In case of a computer programme:

  1. To do any of the acts specified in respect of a literary, dramatic or musical work; and
  2. To sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale or for commercial rental any copy of the computer programme. However, such commercial rental does not apply in respect of computer programmes where the programme itself is not the essential object of the rental.

In case of an artistic work:

  1. Reproducing the work in any material including depiction  in three dimensions of a two dimensional work or in two dimensions of a three dimensional work;
  2. Communicating the work to the public;
  3. Issuing the copies of work to the public which are not already in existence;
  4. Including work in any cinematographic film;
  5. Making adaptation of the work, and to do any of the above acts in relation to an adaptation of the work.

In case of cinematographic film and sound recording:

  1. Making  a copy of the film including a photograph of any image or making any other sound recording embodying it;
  2. Selling or giving on hire or offer for sale or hire any copy of the film/sound recording even if such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions; and
  3. Communicating the film/sound recording to the public.

Documents Required

  1. Name, Address & Nationality of the Candidate – ID proof
  2. NOC from the publisher if work published and publisher is different from the applicant.
  3. Search Certificate from Trade Mark Office (TM -60) if any
  4. NOC from a person whose photograph appears on the work.
  5. Power of Attorney
  6. 2 Copies of work
  7. KYC of author
  8. DD/IPO of Rs. per work ((as applicable)
  9. NOC from the author if the candidate is different from the author.

Procedure for Copyright Registration

  1. An application (including all the particulars and the statement of the particulars) in the format of FORM IV has to be sent to the registrar along with the requisite fees (mentioned in the Schedule 2 of the Act). A separate application has to be made for separate works.
  2. Every application has to be signed by the applicant as well as Advocate in whose favour a Vakalatnama or a POA has been executed.
  3. The registrar will issue a Dairy number and then there is a mandatory waiting time for a period of 30 days for any objections to be received.
  4. If there are no objections received within 30 days, the scrutinizer will check the application for any discrepancy and if no discrepancy is there, the registration will be done and an extract will be sent to the registrar for the entry in the Register of Copyright.
  5. If any objection is received, the examiner will send a letter to both the parties about the objections and will give them both a hearing.
  6. After the hearing, if the objections are resolved the scrutinizer will scrutinize the application and approve or reject the application as the case may be.

Assignment of Copyright

The owner of a copyright in an existing work or a prospective owner of a future work may assign to any person the copyright, either wholly or partly and either generally or subject to limitations and either for the lifetime of the copyright or any thereof. However in the case of future work, the assignment shall take effect only when the work comes into existence.

It may noted that after assignment, the rights of the assignor in the copyright shall be diluted to the extent of the rights so assigned to the assignee and in respect of the rights so assigned, the assignee shall be considered to be the owner during the period of assignment.

The assignment of copyright in any work shall be valid only when it is in writing and signed by the assignor of his duly authorized agent.

Advantages of Copyright registration

  1. Legal Protection – Helps as prima facie evidence in the court of law over ownership of the work. Along with this, it offers Infringement Protection. It gives the creator the right way to get to people who are copying their work and making a living out of the efforts of the hard created things.
  1. Branding or Goodwill – Registered copyright can be applied for marketing and building a sense of goodwill along with quality in the minds of your customers. Registered copyright tells others that you care about want you invented. 
  1. After The Creators Death – After the creator’s death, protection can be extended. Copyright’s protection is not restricted up to the initial creators’ life span its validity is higher than any other intellectual property. It is for 60 years after his/her death also.
  1. Prima Facie Evidence – Copyright protection gives prima facie evidence in case if the litigation proceeds. The proof is required to attest to anything in the court of law. Hence, here the copyright registration is very beneficial for creators.
  1. Owner publicity – The registration makes work recognized across the world and it becomes searchable in the copyright registry database. Once copyright registration is made it limits the use of work without the authorization of the creator.
  1. Restricts Unauthorized Reproduction – The registration will prove that you are serious about copyright infringement. This will help prevent illegal reproduction of the work as it gives the owner a host of legal support.
  1. Creation of Asset – Registered copyrights are intellectual property and the rights can be traded, franchised or commercially engaged.
  1. Public Record – When the registration of copyright is done, a clear public record is made that benefits the original creator to build his ownership over the said copyright.
  1. Copyright helps in establishing credibility in Market – People will proceed with that content is original and not copied from anywhere and neither anyone else can steal the content.
  1. Global Protection – Works that are copyrighted in many other countries are allowed similar privileges here in India. Furthermore, works copyright registered in India are given protection in many foreign countries.

Duration of Copyright in India

After copyright registration, copyright is valid for the lifetime of the author 60 years after the death of the author.

Duration of copyright registration means the copyright in a work will live for such a period as directed under the copyright act and the same cannot be practiced without author/creator permission. Since the copyright duration in a work varies from the nature of work, the duration of copyright as per the work has been discussed herein below:

  1. Published bookish, musical-dramatic or artistic work: up to 60 years after the lifetime of the author.
  2. Anonymous and pseudonymous works: 60 years from the date the work was 1st published.
  3. Cinematographic works: 60 years from the date film was screened
  4. Sound recordings: 60 years from the date such sound recording is released.

Legal Rights in Copyright

  1. Rights of the copyright owner

Under the Indian Copyright Act 1957, copyright preserves the social, economic and legal interests of the author. The copyright owner is allowed to retain the following exclusive rights.

  • The owner may ask for authorship for published work under the right of paternity.
  •  The owner may reproduce the work in any tangible form and keeping it in any medium by electronic means as well.
  •  The owner may determine where to publish and where not under the right of publication.
  •  The owner may perform in public or talk about it to the public or he/she may make any translation or adaptation of the work.
  •  The owner may take certain defensive actions in case of image or reputation loss.
  •  The owner has a right to sell and transfer his or her work.
  1. Rights of Reproduction 

The Copyright Act says that no 3rd party can reproduce or make copies of the original work or part of the work unless the copyright owner has authorized to do so. It limits reproduction in the form of printing an edition of a work and recording sound and films.

  1. Rights of Adaptation 

The copyright creator can choose to use his work whichever way he needs. That is, he/she can build derivatives from the existing work or make new work in the same form or another form based on the original work. The following actions outline the term adaptation as per the Copyright Act:

  • Transforming plays, movies, choreographic shows, and other dramatic works into non-dramatic or literary works like poems, novels, and books
  •   Transforming bookish works and artistic works like sculpture, photography, paintings, drawings, etc into dramatic work
  • Change or modification of dramatic and non-dramatic work
  •  Pictorial depiction of the work
  • Transcription of musical work
  1. Right of communication to the public 

Copyright owners can make their work open to the public using broadcast or wireless distribution whether in any or more of the forms of symbols or visual images.

  1. Right of public performance

The owners of musical work and artistic work can do their works publicly. For example, a musician can play his part or an actor can perform in his play for the crowds. The artists can also choose to advertise their performance on digital platforms.

  1. Right of paternity and integrity

The Copyright Law grants the moral rights of paternity and integrity to the creators. The right of paternity or attribution indicates that the creator can maintain authorship over his work and have it attached to him. That is, whoever wants to reproduce or change the original work has to provide due credit to the author or else the author has the right to take the actions against the maker. For example, if a person needs to make a movie out of a book, he/she must properly acknowledge the author. The right of integrity preserves the right of the holder and lets him/her claim damages when someone changes, damages or alters his work creating disputation to his name and work.

  1. Right of Distribution 

The copyright holder may distribute his work in any form by reproducing, selling, renting, leasing or lending. He/she can also assign particular rights to a person to either copyright the work partly, entirely or subject to some limitations.

Infringement of Copyright

Copyright protection gives exclusive rights to the owners of the work to reproduce the work enabling them to derive financial benefits by exercising such rights. If any person without authorization from the owner exercises these rights in respect of the work, which has copyright protection, it constitutes an infringement of the copyright. If the reproduction of the work is carried out after the expiry of the copyright term, it will not amount to infringement.

Section 51 of the Act contemplates situation in which a copyright shall be deemed to be infringed. This section states that a copyright is infringed when any person without a license granted by the owner of the copyright or the Registrar of Copyrights or in contravention of the conditions of a license so granted or of any condition imposed by a competent authority-

  1. Does anything for which the exclusive right is conferred upon the owner of the copyright; or
  2. Permits for profit any place to be used for the communication of the work to public where such a communication constitutes an infringement of the copyright in the work, unless he was not aware and had no reasonable ground for believing that such communication would infringement of copyright; or
  3. Makes for sale or hire or lets for hire or by way of trade display or offers for sale or hire; or
  4. Distributes either for the purpose of trade or to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright; or
  5. By way of trade, exhibits in public; or
  6. Imports into India any infringing copies of the work.

The owner of copyright can sue the person who has infringed the copyright in his work in the District Court having the jurisdiction and shall be entitled to all such remedies by way of injunction, accounts and damages and otherwise as are conferred by law for the infringement of the right. However, if the defendant proves that at the date of infringement, he was not aware or had no reasonable grounds for believing that copyright subsisted in the work, then the plaintiff shall only be entitled to an injunction and account of profits made by the defendant by sale of the infringing copies. In this case, plaintiff shall not be entitled to any damages.

What counts as infringement of copyright?

  • Reproduction of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work in the form of a cinematographic film.
  • Making translation of a literary work.

What does NOT counts as infringement of copyright?

  • Making or publishing of a painting, drawing, engraving or photograph of a work of architecture.
  • Reconstruction of a building or structure in accordance with the architectural drawings or plans by reference to which the building or structure was originally constructed.
  • Making of any sound recording or visual recording for the private use of the person making such recording, or solely for the purpose of bona fide teaching or research. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is copyright registration?

Ans. Copyright registration is a right provided to the authors to protect their original work being stolen or duplicated and gives you a confirmed legal right over your creation. It gives the individual owner with the package of rights like the right of reproduction, right of translation, etc.

  1. How to get copyright registered?

Ans. Prepare a copyright application and file it. After that, you will be allotted a diary no. and waits for the 30 days in case of objection. If there is no objection the authorized person will examine the application and if he/she is satisfied the registration s approved by the registrar. With approval, the quotations will be sent by the registrar to the candidate.

  1. What are the documents required to get copyright registration?

Ans. The basic documents required for the copyright registration Name, Address & Nationality of the Applicant and creator of the work copies of the original work, the ID proof of the owner and Incorporation certificate in case of business.

  1. Who can apply for the copyright registration?

Ans. Any person or business entity can apply for copyright registration. The individual can be author, creator, musician, photographer, producer, painter, composer, or a company may safeguard their creative by using this legal authority.

  1. Why copyright registration is needed?

Ans. Copyright registration is needed to secure your original work from fraud or unfair advantage. Having copyright over your original work gives proof that this particular work belongs to you only.

  1. Which rights are provided to the copyright holder?

Ans. The copyright holder has following rights:

  • The right to copy or reproduce the original work.
  • The right to determine who may modify the work to other forms and determine benefits from the same.
  • The right to be attributed to work.
  1. Can you use copyright symbol without registering?

Ans. The use of the copyright symbol is also similar to the use of the trademark symbol, as work does not need to be registered to use it. You can place the copyright symbol on any original piece of work you have produced.

  1. What can be protected with the registration of copyright?

Ans. One can protect all his original works like literary works, computer programs, websites, dramatic scripts, musical lyrics, and artists’ works.

  1. How to deal with infringement of copyright?

Ans. First, the person who has the rights will send a statutory notice to the person who was involved in the infringement, then the person who the owner of the work can lawyer up to deal with the condition and handle the same.

  1. What is copyright protection?

Ans. Registering the work with the registrar of the copyright office is copyright protection. It produces a public record of the work done and you can claim anyone for copyright violation made.

  1. How long will it take to get the copyright registration done?

Ans. After registering the application, the department gives a diary number and waits for 30 days.
If the examiner comes up with an error, the same need to be settled within 45 days. Hence, it takes approx. 1-2 months in the normal course in the registration of the copyright.

  1. Can I register my name or title?

Ans. No, you cannot register your name or title. Name or titles can only get trademark registration.

  1. Is there any search engine or way to search about registered copyright?

Ans. Unfortunately, there is no way to do so. The only way out of this is to do proper research work on Google. But do not limit to Google, expand your research sources.

  1. After applying for copyright, if someone uses my content?

Ans. You can send him/her a legal notice regarding the same. But if no action is taken from the second party then you can file a case against him/her and sue them in court.

  1. If I am a jewellery designer what will be the better route to protect my work?

Ans. In the case of jewellery, both copyright and design laws apply. It is better to take copyright protection on the pictures of the design as artwork due to the extensive protection given under copyright law than that given under the design laws.