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Registration number: CUPB/MTECH-CS/SET/CST/2014-15/08


Importance of Copyright Law in India

Akhilendra Singh Yadav
M.Tech. Cyber Security
Centre for Computer Science & Technology
Central University of Punjab, Bathinda (Punjab).

Abstract-Copyright is a right given by the law to the 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.This document includes a brief
introduction about the Indian Copyright Law which came into
effect into effect from January 1958, its amendment in 2012 and
its significance. The Copyright Law is enacted in a country to
protect the intellectual property of the creators of the original
work of authorship such as literary works, dramatics, musical
and artistic works, cinematographic films and sound recordings.
Since 1957, this law has been amended 5 times prior to 2012
(1983, 1984, 1992 and 1999) to meet with the national and
international requirements.
Keywords WCT, WPPT, RMI, DRM, CTP.

The Indian Copyright Law, 1957 is the oldest extant
intellectual property right legislation. This law was an
extension to the British Copyright Act, 1911 and borrowed
extensively from the new Copyright Act of the United
Kingdom of 1956. To meet the national as well as
international requirements, this law was amended 5 times
prior to 2012 i.e. in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994 and 1999. The
main reasons for amendments to the Copyright Act, 1957
include bringing the Act in conformity with WCT and WPPT;
to protect the Music and Film Industry and address its
concerns; to address the concerns of the physically disabled
and to protect the interests of the author of any work; to
remove operational facilities; and enforcement of rights. Some
of the important amendments to the Copyright Act in 2012 are
extension of copyright protection in the digital environment
such as penalties for circumvention of technological
protection measures and rights management information, and
liability of internet service provider. [1]
Like trademarks, a copyright is an intangible property. The
subject matter of copyright, the thing protected is called a
work. Copyright subsists throughout India in (a) original
literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (b)

cinematograph film and (c) sound recording (Section 13).

These terms are defined in the Act. Apart from these works,
no other work is entitled to copyright under the Act. [2]
A. Literary, dramatic or Musical work
The owner has exclusive right to reproduce work in any
material from including the storing of it in any medium
by electronic means, to issue copies to the public, to
perform or communicate the work to the public, to make
cinematograph or sound recording in respect of the work.
B. Computer Programs
In addition to the above rights, the owner has exclusive right
to sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire any copy of the
programme. The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1999 has
added one more right; i.e., to sell or give on commercial rental
or offer for sale or for commercial rental any copy of the
C. Cinematograph film
A producer has exclusive right to make copy of the film
including photograph of any image forming part thereof, to
sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire any copy of the
film, to communicate the film to the public.
D. Sound Recording
A composer has exclusive right to make any other sound
recording embodying it, or offer for sale or hire any copy of
the film, to communicate the film to the public.
Rights conferred by section 14 upon the author are the
economic rights, because exploitation of the work by himself
or by licensing it for royalty may bring economic benefit to
the author.
Object of copyright law is to encourage authors, composers
and artists to create original works by giving them exclusive
right for limited period to reproduce the work for the benefit
of the public. It is a negative right to prevent others from
copying their work.
Copyright is not a perpetual right. It exists for a specific term.
After the expiry of the term, the work falls in the public
domain and opens to public to use without permission of the
owner. For literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the
term is 60 years from the death of the author; for photograph,
cinematograph film, and sound recording 60 years from the
beginning of the calendar year next following the year in
which it is published / released. [2]

Registration number: CUPB/MTECH-CS/SET/CST/2014-15/08


The provisions of acquiring copyright ownership are defined

under Section 17 of the Act. The right of ownership is
available only if one qualifies the provision of this Act. There
is no other remedy in other laws prevailing in India to counter
the violation of copyright ownership. [3]
The nationality of the person is the important factor to get the
right of the copyright. The section 13(2) provides that


Author of any work is the first owner of copyright (Section
17) viz. Author of literary or dramatic work, composer of the
music, artist or photographer in respect of an artistic work and
a photograph respectively, producer of a cinematograph film
or sound recording. When the work is computer generated, the
person who causes the work to be created is the author.
Section 17 of the Act provides situations where author is not
the first owner of copyright (in the absence of the agreement
to the contrary) e.g. when a photograph is taken, portrait or
painting draw, or engraving made on in return of
consideration, then the person giving the consideration is the
owner; when literary, dramatic or artistic work is created by
the author during the course of employment under a contract
for service employer is the owner.
Assignment of copyright has to be in writing and signed by
the assignor or by his duly authorized agent. (Section 19).
Copyright is a multiple right, consisting of a bundle of
different rights in the same work, which can be assigned or
licensed either as a whole to one party or separately to
different parties. For example, take any book say "ONE
WITH THE WINDE"- separate right exist in the same work viz. reproduction in hard back and paperback edition, right of
serial publication in a magazine, right of dramatic version or
cinematograph version, translation, adaptation etc.

In case of published work, the work must be

published in India or when published outside India,
the author must be citizen of India at the date of
publication or if dead at the time of his death.
Section 7 of the copyright Act provides that the
author in the case of unpublished work, at the time of
making of an unpublished work must be citizen of
India or domiciled in India where the making of an
unpublished work is extended over a considerable
In the case of architectural work the work must be
situated in India.
The international organization and the citizen of other
countries also get the protection of copyright in India but it is
subject to the certain condition and they are not per se
qualified for the protection.
According to Section 17 of the Copyrights Act, 1957 the first
owner of copyright is defined as under:
Section 2(d) defines author, it says "Author" means,
In relation to a literary or dramatic work, the author
of the work;
In relation to a music work, the composer;
In relation to artistic work other than a photograph,
the artist;
In relation to a cinematography film or sound
recording, the producer; and
In relation to any literary, dramatic, musical or
artistic work which is computer-generated
However, this provision is subject to certain exceptions.
For instance Section17 (a) provides that where a work is made
by the author in the course of his employment by the
proprietor of a newspaper, magazine or a periodical under a
contract of service or apprenticeship for the purpose of
publication in a newspaper, magazine or periodical, the said
proprietor, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary
will be the first owner of the copyright in the work in so far as
it relates to the publication of the work in any newspaper,
magazine or similar periodical or to the publication of the
work for the purpose of being so published. Except in such
cases, the author will be the first owner of the copyright in the


In case of a published work the copyright will subsists in India
if, the work is published in India OR if the work is published
outside India - the author at the time of publication (if alive at
that date) or at the time of his death is citizen of India. In case
of an unpublished work, the copyright subsists in India if: The
author at the time of making of work was a citizen or domicile
of India. In case of architectural work, if work is located in
India. In case of an unpublished work, the copyright subsists in
India if: The author at the time of making of work was a
citizen or domicile of India. In case of architectural work, if
work is located in India. [3]
Copyright is granted only by the law of the country in which
the work is created. Therefore, if copyright does not subsists
in certain country, to prevent piracy in that country is
impossible. To meet this problem conventions like Berne
Convention and Universal Copyright Convention are formed.
The Member States offer minimum copyright protection on
reciprocal basis to the works originating in another member
country. India is a member of both these conventions. Central
Government has passed Universal Copyright Order, 1991 in
exercise of right granted under Section 40, which empowers
the Central Government to extend the copyright protection to
foreign works.

The owner of the copyright in an existing work or the
prospective owner of the copyright in a future work may
assign to any person the copyright, either wholly or partially


Registration number: CUPB/MTECH-CS/SET/CST/2014-15/08

and either generally or subject to limitations and either for the
whole term of the copyright or any part thereof. [3]
However, in the case of the assignment of copyright in any
future work, the assignment shall take effect only when the
work comes into existence. Where the assignee of a copyright
becomes entitled to any right comprised in the copyright, the
assignee as respects the rights so assigned, and the assignor as
respects the rights not assigned, shall be treated for the
purposes of this Act, as the owner of copyright and the
provisions of this Act shall have effect accordingly. The
expression "assignee" as respects the assignment of the
copyright in any future work includes the legal representatives
of the assignee, if the assignee dies before the work comes
into existence.


commercial rental or offer for sale or for such rental, any

copy of these works.
B. Definition of Communication to the Public
The definition of communication to the public in
Section 2(ff) has been expanded. It now includes both
works and performances (instead of just works as was the
case prior to the coming into effect of the 2012
amendments i.e. 'earlier').
C. Performers and their rights
The performers right has been restructured; for the most
part, the restructuring has not resulted in substantial
changes although one striking difference is that
performers are now entitled for royalties in case of
making of the performances for commercial use under
the new Section 38A.


No assignment of the copyright in any work shall be valid

unless it is in writing signed by the assignor or by his duly
authorized agent. Where under a bequest a person is entitled
to the manuscript of a literary, dramatic or musical work, or to
an artistic work, and the work was not published before the
death of the testator, the bequest shall, unless the contrary
intention is indicated in the testator's will or any codicil
thereto, be construed as including the copyright in the work in
so far as the testator was the owner of the copyright
immediately before his death. The expression "manuscript"
means the original document embodying the work, whether
written by hand or not. [4]
The author of a work may relinquish all or any of the rights
comprised in the copyright in the work by giving notice in the
prescribed from to the Registrar of Copyrights and thereupon
such rights shall, subject to the following conditions, cease to
exist from the date of the notice. On receipt of a notice, the
Registrar of Copyrights shall cause it to be published in the
Official Gazette and in such other manner as he may deem fit.
The relinquishment of all or any of the rights comprised in
the copyright in a work shall not affect any rights subsisting in
favour of any person on the date of the notice.

D. Definition of Visual Recording

The new Section 2(xxa) defines a visual recording to
mean: the recording in any medium, by any method
including the storing of it by any electronic means, of
moving images or of the representations thereof, from
which they can be perceived, reproduced or
communicated by any method.
E. Digital Rights Management
Three new Sections- 2(xa), 65A and 65B-deal with DRM.
1) Protection of technological measures: Section 65A
criminalises the circumvention of an effective
technological protection measure which has been
applied for the purpose of protecting any of the rights
conferred by the copyright statute if the
circumvention is performed with the intention of
infringing rights conferred by the Act.
2) Rights Management Information: Section 2(xa)
defines RMI to mean the title or other information
identifying a work or performance, the name of the
author or performer, the name and address of the
owner of rights, terms and conditions regarding the
use of the rights, and any number or code that
represents this information


Following are the various amendments that were done in
the Indian Copyright Law 1957 in the year 2012. These
amendments are in chronological order. [5]

F. Meaning of Copyright
A. Definition of Commercial Rental

1) Electronic and other storage: Copyright in the

case of artistic works, cinematograph films and
sound recordings includes the right to store works
in any medium by electronic or other means.
2) 3D-2D conversion of Art: Copyright in artistic works
continues to include the right to convert works from
three dimensions into two dimensions and vice versa.

The 2012 Act introduces a new definition for the term

commercial rental in Section 2(fa); this term is used in
Section 14 where it states that one of the exclusive rights
of the owners of the copyright in computer programmes,
films and sound recordings is to sell or give on

Registration number: CUPB/MTECH-CS/SET/CST/2014-15/08

G. Future technologies
Section 18 has been amended to disallow the
assignment of copyright in a manner which would allow
the assignee to exploit the copyright assigned to it via
unspecified future technologies i.e. any medium or
mode of exploitation of a work which did not exist or was
not in commercial use when the assignment was signed.
The Copyright Act, 1957 is a comprehensive Act. The
object of this Act is thou shall not steal. This Act is drafted in
tune of English and American laws. This Act safeguards the
ownership of unpublished work also in addition to the
protection grated to publish work. In the case of unpublished
work the author must be a citizen of India or domiciled in
India at the time of the creation of the work. Copyright in an
architectural work will subsist only if the work is located in
India irrespective of the nationality of the author. Ownership
of original work is only protected through the statute and
common law in India does not offer any remedy for the same.
Copyright subsists in the original work the reproduction of
the adaptation will be possible only with the consent or license
of the copyright owner of the original work.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Hansraj Arora
(Associate Professor) Centre for Environmental Law, Central
University of Punjab, Bathinda for providing me an
opportunity to write my term paper. It helped me a lot in
getting thorough knowledge about Security techniques for
wireless LANs in wireless communication networks. I would
like to thank Government website dedicated to Copyright
Laws of India from where got all the information about
copyright law and its various amendments done at different
times since 1957.




"INDIAN COPYRIGHT ACT, 1957". Govt of India. Archived

from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
The Copyright Act, 1957-<> Retrieved 1
June 2014.
A. Hirani Law Governing Copyright
right%20in%20India.pdf> Retrieved 2 July 2014
Retrieved 2 June 2014
N Saikia The Impact of the 2012 Amendments on the 1957
Copyright Act<> Retrieved 2 June 2014