Copyright deals with the rights of intellectual creators in their creation. The copyright law deals with the particular forms of creativity, concerned primarily with mass communication.

The Copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. There is no copyright protection for ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such.

Why Copyright??

Copyright ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. Creativity being the keystone of progress, no civilized society can afford to ignore the basic requirements of encouraging the same.

Meaning of Copyright:

Section 14 of the act defines copyright as:

1. In case of literary, dramatic or musical work:

a)       Reproducing the work in any material form which includes storing of it in any medium by electronic means,

b)       Issuing copies of the work to the public which are not already in circulation,

c)       Performing the work in public or communicating it to the public,

d)       Making any cinematograph film or sound recording in the respect of work,

e)       Making any translation or adaptation of the work.

2. In case of a computer programme:

a)       To do any of the acts specified in respect of a literary, dramatic or musical works,

b)       To sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale or for commercial rental any copy of the computer programme.

3. In the case of artistic works:

a)       To reproduce the work in any material from including storing of it in any medium by electronic or other means, depiction in three dimensions of a two dimensional work and depiction in two dimensions of a three dimensional work,

b)       Communicating the work to the public,

c)       Issuing copies of work to the public which are not already in existence,

d)       Including work in any cinematograph films,

e)       Making adaptation of the work, and to do any of the above acts in relation to an adaptation of the work.

4. In the case of cinematograph film:

a)       To make a copy of the film, including photograph of any image forming part thereof or storing of it in any medium by electronic means or otherwise.

b)       To sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale or for such rental, any copy of the film,

c)       To communicate the film to the public.

5. In the case of sound recording:

a)       To make any other sound recording embodying it “including storing of it in any medium by electronic or other means,

b)       To sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale or for such rental, any copy of the sound recording,

c)       To communicate the sound recording to the public.

Who is a Author:

Works Author
Literary or dramatic work Creator of work
Musical Work Composer
Cinematograph Film Producer
Sound Recording Producer
Photograph Photographer
Computer Generated Work Person who causes the work to be created

 Term of Copyright:

Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works enjoy protection for the life time of the author plus 60 years beyond i.e. 60 years after his death. In case of joint authorship which implies collaboration of two or more authors in the production of work, the term of copyright is to be construed as a reference to the author who dies at last.

In case of copyright of posthumous, anonymous and pseudonymous works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, works of Government, public undertakings and international organization, the term of protection is 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in the work has been first published.

The act has given broadcasting reproduction right to every broadcaster which is valid for 25 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in the broadcast has been done.

Copyright Board:

Section 11 of the act provides for the establishment of the Copyright Board and empowers Central Government to constitute the same consisting of Chairman and 2 other members. It has many important functions, such as:

  1. Settlement of disputes,
  2. Grating of licenses, etc

Copyright Licenses:

Chapter VI containing Sections 30-32B deals with Licenses.

I. Licenses by Owners of Copyright: Section 30 of the act empowers the owner of the copyright in any existing work or the prospective owner of the copyright in any future work to grant any interest in the right by license in writing by him or by his duly authorized agent. However, in the case of a license relating to copyright in any future work, the license shall take effect only when the work comes into existence.

II. Compulsory License withheld from public: Section 31 provides that of at any time during the term of copyright in any Indian work which has been published or performed in public, a complaint is made top the Copyright Board that the owner of copyright in the work has refused to republish or allow the reproduction of the work or has refused to allow the performance in public of the work and by reason of such refusal the work is withheld from the public or has refused to allow communication to the public by broadcast of such work or recording, on terms which the complainant considers reasonable, the Copyright Board, after giving to the owner of the copyright in the work a reasonable opportunity of being heard and after holding such inquiry as it may deem necessary, may, if it is satisfied that the grounds for such refusal are not reasonable, direct the Registrar of Copyright to grant to the complainant the license to republish the work.

III. Statutory License for broadcasting of literary and musical work and sound recording: Section 31D provides that any broadcasting organization desirous of communicating to the public by way of a broadcast or by way of performance of a literary or musical work and sound recording which has already been published may do so subject to the fulfillment of prescribed conditions.

IV. Termination of License: Section 32B of the act deals with termination of licenses and provides that if any time after the granting of a license, the owner of the copyright in the work or any person authorized by him publishes a translation of such work in the same language and which is substantially the same in content at a price reasonably related to the price normally charged in India for the translation of works of the same standard on the same or similar subject, the license so granted shall be terminated.

V. Other Licenses can be by way of License in unpublished or published works, benefit of disabled, etc

(Author ‘Sagar Gupta’ is an innovative leader in delivering corporate advisory & solutions and can be reached at sgr@sgrgupta.com)

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