Case Law Details

Case Name : I.T.C. Limited Vs A.D.I.T. (ITAT Kolkata)
Appeal Number : I.T.A No. 673/Kol/2013
Date of Judgement/Order : 01/03/2017
Related Assessment Year : 2010-11
Courts : All ITAT (4205) ITAT Kolkata (264)

Whether the term ‘literary work’ as mentioned in the definition of royalty in the treaty would include ‘software’ or not? As per the provisions of section 2(o) of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, the term `literary work’ includes computer programs, tables and compilations including computer data base. Therefore, the computer software has been recognized as a literary work in India, if they are original intellectual creations.

What is the right that was given to the Appellate by NPL under the agreement dated 15.12.2008 and whether the said right can be said to right to use copyright in computer software. Section 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957 explains the meaning of “Copyright” as under:

“14. Meaning of copyright – For the purposes of this Act, ‘copyright’ means the exclusive right subject to the provisions of this Act, to do or authorize the doing of ay of the following acts in respect of a work or any substantial part thereof, namely:

(a) in the case of a literary, dramatic or musical work, not being a computer programme, –

(i)   to reproduce the work in any material from including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means;

(ii)   to issue copies the work to the public not being copies already in circulation;

(iii) to perform the work in public, or communicate it to the public;

(iv)    to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work;

(v)   to make any translation of the work;

(vi) to make any adaptation of the work;

(vii) to do, in relation to a translation or an adaptation of the work, any of the acts specified in relation to the work in sub-cls. (i) to (vi);

(b) in the case of a computer programme,-

(i)   to do any of the acts specified in cl. (a);

(ii)   to sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale or for commercial rental any copy of the computer programme:

Provided that such commercial rental does not apply in respect of computer programmes where the programme itself is not the essential object of the rental.”

A perusal of the above provisions of the copyright Act reveals that the computer software is included in the definition of literary work and is covered under the purview and scope of copyright. The exclusive rights to do or authorize the doing of certain acts as mentioned in clause (a) and clause (b) of section 14 vests in the owner of the work such as to reproduce the work, to issue copies, to make translation or adaptation, to sell or give on commercial rental in respect of a work. The internal use of the work for the purpose it has been purchased does not constitute right to use the copy right in work. A combined reading of clause-3 and clause-8 of the Agreement dated 15.12.2008 between the appellant and NPL, clearly shows that the Appellant had only a right to use the computer software and did not have right to use copyright in the computer software. In other words none of the rights as is envisaged under Sec.14(a) or (b) of the Copyright Act, 1957 was conveyed by the agreement dated 15.12.2008. Therefore the payment in question made by the Assessee to NPL cannot be regarded as “Royalty“. As we have already observed the Act does not specifically include “computer software” in the term “literary work” and under such circumstances, if we apply the provisions of Act to define the scope of “Literary Work”, then perhaps the “computer software” will be out of the scope of the term royalty as defined under the DTAA. However, if we apply the Copyright Act, then the “computer software” will have to be included in the term “literary work” but to constitute “royalty” under the DTAA, the consideration should have been paid for the use of or the right to use the copyright in the “literary work” and not the right to use “literary work” itself.

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