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Protection of Copyright in India

Copyright Law in India is governed by the Copyright Act 1957. It protects works which are literary dramatic, musical, artistic, cinematograph films and sound recordings. Also it provides the original owner an exclusive right on the created work and acts as a deterrent to others from exploiting the original work. It provides an equilibrium between the rights of the author and the interests of public.

Computer Software or program such as Mobile App, Website can also be copyrighted under the act. They are to be registered as a ‘literary work’. As per Section 2 (o) of the Copyright Act, 1957 "literary work" includes computer programs, tables and compilations, including computer databases. For registration of copyright for software products, source code and object code have to be submitted during the time of application.

Apart from protecting the work from infringement it also provides the right to the original owner to reproduce the work in any material form such as novel, song, movie, translation and adaption. And he is the only individual who can grant the license to the usage of his work by other parties.

One can register their works under the act through e-filling application on or through post by sending along the application to Copyright Office in Delhi. Copyright acts as an record and can be used as an evidence in the court of law. Hence it is essential to register your work.

Ownership of the Original Work:

In the case of a Literary, Dramatic or Artistic work, computer programs the author shall be the owner of the work, provided if the work has been done, during the course of employment, the ownership shall retain with the employer. In case of musical work, the author is the composer and in relation to Cinematograph film and sound recording the producer shall be the author. In the case of a photograph taken, or a painting or portrait drawn, or an engraving or a cinematograph film made, the photographer or the artist shall be the first owner, in absence of any agreement contrary.

What amounts to Infringement ? When any person acts in contravention of the conditions in the license granted by the original author or the Registrar, exploits the exclusive right of the original author by selling, re-sharing the original authors work in return for profits, without giving the due credit to the author, then that person shall be deemed to be have infringed the copyright of the author.

Copyright is a bundle of exclusive rights, also called a negative right as it prevents others from copying the work of the original owner of the work and can be exclusively used by the right owner, however there are certain limitations to such right to strike a balance between the protection of economic rights of author/copyright owner and interests of the public in the copyrighted work. The Civil Remedies against the Infringement are to obtain damages, infringement and accounts of the Infringer, but in case the defendant proves that he did not have the knowledge that certain work is copyrighted and has unknowingly infringed upon, then only an injunction can be sought against the defendant.

Penalties: Any person who knowingly infringes the copyright of the rightful owner shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees. Provided that if the infringement is not done for the purpose of trade or business, the Court may impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months or a fine of less than fifty thousand rupees by mentioning special reasons in the judgement.

In case of second and subsequent infringement of copyright, there shall be enhanced penalty with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees.

Limitations of Copyright: 1) The statutory limitation is the limited duration of copyright in work, which is the life of the author and sixty years after his death, after expiry of the copyrighted term, the work falls into public domain.

2) The secondary statutory limitation on the rights of copyright owner is ‘fair dealing’ or ‘fair use’ of the owner’s work and the use of such work shall not amount to copyright infringement as enumerated in section 52 of the Act and few of the said grounds are

(i)The free use of such copyrighted work can be used in performances in the activities of educational institution,

(ii)The reading and recitation of extracts in public from a published literary or dramatic work.

(iii) A fair dealing of the work for research, criticism or review and reporting of current events and affairs, including reporting of the lecture delivered in public.

(iv) Reproduction or recitation of any certified work made in accordance with the law.

3) The Third Limitation is Compulsory and Statutory Licensing, In Compulsory Licensing, the licensee should pay remuneration as negotiated by the rightful owner, whereas in Statutory Licensing the licensee uses the protected work by paying remuneration fixed by the Appellate Board to the right owner.


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