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Copyright registration in India gives economic rights to the creators of materials such as literature, art, music, sound recordings and films and broadcasts; thus enabling them to control the use of their material in a number of ways, such as by making copies, issuing copies to the public, performing in public, broadcasting and use online. It also gives moral rights to be identified as the creator of certain kinds of material and to object to its distortion or its mutilation. (Material protected by copyright is termed as "work").

Copyright does not protect ideas, names or titles. The purpose of Copyright law in India is to allow Copyright registrants to gain economic rewards for their efforts and to encourage future creativity and the development of new material which benefits everyone. Copyright material is usually the result of creative skills and/or significant labour and/or investment, and without protection, it would often be very easy for others to exploit material without paying the creator. Most uses of Copyright material therefore require permission from the Copyright owner. However there are certain exceptions where some minor uses may not result in Copyright infringement.

Copyright protection is automatic as soon as there is a record in any form of the material that has been created. There is a provision to register the Copyright under the Indian Copyright Act, although this is voluntary.

Owner of a Copyright

  • In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, the general rule is that the author, i.e. the person who created the work is the first owner of the economic rights under Copyright. However, where such a work is made in the course of employment, the employer is the first owner of these rights, unless an agreement to the contrary has been made with the author.
  • In the case of a film, the principal director and the film producer are joint authors and first owners of the economic rights, and similar provisions as referred to above apply where the director is employed.
  • In the case of a sound recording, the record producer is the author and first owner of Copyright; in the case of a broadcast, the broadcaster; and in the case of a published edition, the publisher.

Copyright is, however, a form of property which, like physical property, can be bought or sold, inherited or otherwise transferred, wholly or in part. So, some or all of the economic rights may subsequently belong to someone other than the first owner. In contrast, the moral rights accorded to authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors remain with the author or director or pass to his or her heirs on death. Copyright in material produced by a Government department belongs to the Government of India.

Copyright owners generally have the right to authorise or prohibit any of the following in relation to their works:

  • Copying of the work in any way E.g. photocopying/reproducing a printed page by handwriting, typing or scanning into a computer or taping live or recorded music.
  • Issuing copies of the work to the public.
  • Public delivery of lectures or speeches etc.
  • Broadcasting of the work, audio/video or including it in a cable programme.
  • Making an adaptation of the work such as by translating a literary or dramatic work, transcribing a musical work or converting a computer program into a different computer language or code.

Copyright is infringed when any of the above acts are done without authorisation, whether directly or indirectly, or whether substantially (in part) or in whole, unless what is done falls within the scope of exceptions to Copyright infringement permitting certain minor uses of material.

There are a number of exceptions to Copyright that allow limited use of Copyright works without the permission of the Copyright owner. For example, limited use of works may be possible for research and private study, criticism or review, reporting current events, judicial proceedings, teaching in schools and other educational establishments and not-for-profit playing of sound recordings.

But if you are copying large amounts of material and/or making multiple copies then you may still need permission. Also where a Copyright exception covers publication of excerpts from a Copyright work, it is generally necessary to include an acknowledgement. Sometimes more than one exception may apply to the use you are thinking of.

Exceptions to Copyright do not generally give you rights to use the Copyright material; they just state that certain activities do not infringe Copyright. So it is possible that an exception could be overridden by a contract you have signed limiting your ability to do things that would otherwise fall within the scope of an exception.

It is important to remember that just buying or owning the original or a copy of a Copyright work does not give you the permission to use it the way you wish. For example, buying a copy of a book, CD, video, computer program etc. does not necessarily give you the right to make copies (even for private use), play or show them in public. Other everyday uses of Copyright material, such as photocopying, scanning, downloading from a CD-ROM or online database, all involve copying the work. So, permission is generally needed. Also, usage beyond the terms of an agreed licence will require further permission.

To view the procedure for filing a Copyright application, Click Here