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Entrepreneur’s Guide to Copyright: Process of Copyright Registration

This post is a follow up to our earlier post on Copyright, which can be accessed here, and in which discussed the concept of copyright protection. This article will outline some of the basic facts about copyright law and answer some of the common questions regarding copyright registration process like ‘Need of Copyright registration?’, 'Who grants copyrights?', 'Submissions required?', and 'Term of Copyright?' etc. This article is intended to enlighten some of the core fundamental issues related to copyright law, and help you understand effective use of copyright for businesses as part of IP strategy. For making the article easy to comprehend, please note that we have used a point by point explanation approach for the article.

1. Do you need copyright registration?
Though copyright registration is not mandatory, formal registration of copyright has its unique advantages. Firstly, it helps an author to prove that he is an original owner of the work. Secondly, it gives a legal sanction to the ownership of your work, and gives an unparalleled advantage of bringing the law on your side. Since copyright registration provides a legal sanction on ownership of the work, it allows the author to leverage his rights by selling or agreeing a transfer of his copyright to someone else. More importantly, registered copyright may act as an indispensible strategic tool to keep away competition eating into your business. Holding exclusive copyright in a work gives you an advantage to control your competitive space. Additionally, registration of copyright and its related rights boosts creative advancement, and provides its creators incentives in the form of recognition and economic rewards.

2. Who grants copyright registration and under which act?
The procedure for registration of work comes under the Copyright Act, 1957. The registration of copyright can be done at the Copyright Office, which is in immediate control of a Registrar of Copyrights appointed by the Central Government. The entries made in the register of copyrights serve as primafacie in the court of law.

3. Submissions required?
For registering a copyright, an applicant needs to send three copies of published work along with the application. If work that is to be registered is unpublished then a copy of manuscript is required, which is to be sent along with the application for affixing the stamp of the copyright office in proof of the work having been registered. Applicant can also send only extracts from unpublished work instead of the whole manuscript. As per the procedures, application for registration is to be made on an official form including statement of particulars. It is necessary to file separate applications for registration of each work and applications has to be signed by the applicant or advocate in whose favor power of attorney has been executed. Also, it is mandatory to enclose a copy showing that power of attorney is signed by the party and accepted by the advocate. Fee is required to be accompanied by the application.

4. How long does it take for copyright registration?
After filing the copyright application, one need to wait for a period of 30 days till the time no objection is filed in the copyright office. If the objections are filed, these objections are required to be traversed with strong persuasive arguments, backed by citations of legal principles of copyright law. It is a complex process to convince the copyright office for registration, and it is strictly advised to take help of a legal practitioner for the same. Further, when objection is filed, it may take few months to decide whether work could be registered or not. Therefore, the key is to frame the copyright application in such a way so as to prevent any future objections regarding the copyright registration.

5. Term of copyright protection
Copyright protection is not indefinite. 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.

6. International protection of Copyrights
Author’s work is not automatically protected under “international copyright” throughout the world. Protection against unauthorized use usually depends on the national laws of that particular country. However, most countries do provide protection of foreign works under certain conditions and these conditions are specified by International copyright treaties and conventions. Therefore, it is advised to seek copyright registration in foreign countries to substantiate infringement claims.

Part C- Costs for obtaining copyright protection
1. Government fees
During copyright registration, certain about of prescribed fees have to be paid to the government for registration of copyright and its maintenance. Fees can be paid by postal order/demand draft –payable to registrar of copyright, New Delhi. The filing fees varies between ` 50/- to 400/- per work.

2. Professional Fees
Copyright registrations are provided by Indian firms at affordable prices, which meet the client's requirements and expectations easily, though the cost may vary from firm to firm. The professional fees of registering one single work may ideally be between ` 7,000/- to 20,000/- depending upon the content of the work.

Issues faced while obtaining copyright registration
1. What are potential roadblocks in copyright registration?
For a work to be registered, it is important that it should have a requisite level of creativity (originality) in order to qualify for copyright protection. Further, if the work is just representation of facts without any creativity, then it can’t be protected. Therefore, facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation can’t be protected. Also, a work cannot be registered if it comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter or if it contains matter likely to hurt the religious susceptibilities of any class or section of the citizen of India.

2. How to ensure you don’t meet these roadblocks?
Foremost thing a person must do if he/she is interested in copyright registration is to ensure that work is totally his/hers. In many cases it may happen that, creations are done while person is an employee of a company and the work belongs to the employer. Secondly, a person must ensure that work is not obscene, scandalous or hurting religious susceptibilities of a class or section of citizens of India. Thirdly, one should ensure that the filing of the copyright application is in consonance with the requirements and procedures established under copyright statute. A pre-emptive action can ensure an easy registration of a copyright, thereby saving energy, money and efforts. Please Note: The following information on copyright is intended as general guide only. This material is not intended to constitute any legal advice whatsoever and should not be relied on as such.

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