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What is a Copyright?


Copyright is a legal right, given exclusively to the creator/originator (or assignee or legal representative of the assignee) of the work to make further copies for publication and performance of the work in public. It includes the right to reproduce the work in any material form and to produce, reproduce, perform or publish, to translate, to communicate, to make adaptation, to record etc. Work means a literary including computer programs, dramatic, musical including any graphical notation thereof or artistic work such as a painting, a sculpture, a drawing (including a diagram, map, chart or plan), an engraving or a photograph, a work of architecture, a cinematographic film including video film or a sound recording regardless of the medium on which such recording is made or the method by which sounds are produced and over the way in which a news item is reported.(There is no copyright over news) There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work.


Why should copyright be protected?


The protection and safeguards of the rights provided by copyright to the rights and efforts of writers, artists, designers, dramatists, musicians, architects and producers of sound recordings, cinematograph films and computer software over their creations are conducive to protecting and rewarding creativity, which induces them to create more and motivates others to create.


Can any one use any work without permission of the owner of the copyright and, if so, when?


Subject to certain conditions, a fair deal for research, study, criticism, review and news reporting, as well as use of works in library and schools and in the legislatures, in connection with judicial proceeding, performance by an amateur club or society if the performance is given to a non-paying audience and the making of sound recordings of literary, dramatic or musical works under certain conditions is permitted without specific permission of the copyright owners in order to protect the interests of users.


What is the scope of protection in the Copyright Act, 1957?


The Copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. Unlike the case with patents, copyright protects the expressions and not the ideas. There is no copyright in an idea.


Does copyright apply to titles and names?


Copyright does not ordinarily protect titles by themselves or names, short word combinations, slogans, short phrases, methods, plots or factual information. Copyright does not protect ideas or concepts..


Is copyright assignable?


Yes. 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 and either generally or subject to limitations and either for the whole term of the copyright or for any part thereof.


What is the mode of assigning copyright?


It shall be in writing signed by the assignor or by his duly authorized agent. It shall identify the specific works and specify the rights assigned and the duration and territorial extent of such assignment. It shall also specify the amount of royalty payable, if any, to the author or his legal heirs during the currency of the assignment and the assignment shall be subject to revision, extension or termination on terms mutually agreed upon by the parties.


When does an assignment lapse?


Where the assignee does not exercise the rights assigned to him within a period of one year from the date of assignment, the assignment in respect of such rights shall be deemed to have lapsed after the expiry of the said period unless otherwise specified in the assignment.


What will be the period of assignment if not specifically stated in the assignment?


If the period of assignment is not stated, it shall be deemed to be five years from the date of assignment.


What will be the territorial extent of the assignment if not specified in the assignment?


If the territorial extent of assignment of the rights is not specified, it shall be presumed to extend within the whole of India.


What is the duration of a Copyright?


In case of literary work, it lasts for the life span of the author and for 60 years of the author’s death and in case of other works for 60 years from publication.


Why to register a Copyright?


A Certificate of registration of copyright and the entries made therein serve as prima facie evidence in a court of law with reference to any dispute relating to ownership of copyright. Though registration of a copyright is not compulsory, upon registration the law provides civil and criminal remedies to the owner against the offender for infringement of his copyright.


What are the criteria for copyright protection?


First, the work should be original meaning the work owes its origin to the author. It need not be novel in the sense that the author of the work need not be the first to create the work or articulate the idea. Second, the work must be reduced to tangible form. It must be written, drawn, printed or taped etc. Mere oral expression of an idea will not qualify for copyright protection.


Which are the common copyright infringements?


The following are some of the commonly known acts involving infringement of copyright

1. Making infringing copies for sale or hire or selling or letting them for hire;

2. Permitting any place for the performance of works in public where such performance constitutes infringement of copyright;

3. Distributing infringing copies for the purpose of trade or to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the interest of the owner of copyright;

4. iPublic exhibition of infringing copies by way of trade and

5. Importing infringing copies into India.


What are the remedies against infringement of a copyright?


Civil remedies are available to the owner of a copyright against its infringement. Civil remedies available are by way of damages, injunction, account of profits, delivery for destruction of infringing material and equipment used for producing the infringing material etc. In civil cases, court can give interim injunction without notice to the other party. Usually, court gives a direction where a commissioner is appointed by the court who is empowered to conduct a search of the offender’s premises and forfeit the infringing material and equipment used for producing the infringing material etc. Criminal remedy by way of seizure of the infringing material and equipment used for producing the infringing material is also available. Further, infringement is a criminal offence which is cognizable, non-bailable and triable by a Magistrate of First Class. A police officer not below the rank of a sub inspector can arrest the offender without warrant or order from the court and conduct search of his premises without prior authorization of a court. The offence of infringement or abetment of infringement, if proved, carries a minimum sentence of imprisonment of 6 months which may extend up to 3 years and a minimum fine of Rs.50,000/- which can extend up to Rs.2.00 lakh. Enhanced penalty is provided for in case of second and subsequent convictions.

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