Copyright Law IPR

Introduction to Copyright Law in India

Introduction to Copyright Law in India

Drishti Suji, a 4th-year student from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies (VIPS) has written this Article-” Introduction to Copyright Law in India”

Introduction to Copyright Law in India

Intellectual property rights are the rights that people are given over their original works of art. They give the inventor a time-limited, special right to utilize his or her mind’s creation. Examples include writing, music, innovations, etc. It is an immaterial asset. It is referred to as property because it may be sold, bought, financed, etc. The rights to the intangible property belonging to the IP owner. IP cannot be used without the owner’s permission.

Simply said, intellectual property grants rights to non-physical, intangible property that is derived from ideas, skills, and talent. IPR was created to safeguard both the infringement and their rights. Its goal is to inspire other writers, painters, and artists to showcase their unique talents without worrying about being imitated by others.


Copyright is essentially the right to copy. The author must give someone permission before they can replicate the original work.

Copyright refers to the legal protections provided to authors and other creators of creative works. Films, reference books, newspapers, databases, plays, poems, and artistic creations like paintings, drawings, and pictures are all included. If someone has the copyright to something, he is the exclusive owner of it and the one who decides who can copy it. This is intellectual property. In a nutshell, copyright allows for the reproduction of works that also have it. The rights of performers (such as actors, singers, and musicians), manufacturers of phonograms (sound recordings), and broadcasting organizations are also protected by copyright and related (often referred to as “neighbouring” rights). The primary societal goal of copyright and related rights protection is to support and honour creative efforts.

Section 14 of the Copyright Act of 1957

It defines copyright as the exclusive right to perform certain activities or to grant others the right to perform certain acts in connection with:

  • Literary, Dramatic, or Musical Works.
  • Creative works
  • Movie making, and sound recording.

Legislation is what gives rise to copyright. There is no such thing as a common law copyright, according to current law. No individual shall be entitled to copyright or any similar right in any work, whether published or unpublished, other than this Act, according to Section 16 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

The Berne Convention-based Copyright Act of 1957, which was revised in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1999, and 2012, is based on the Copyright Act of 1911. To facilitate copyright registration, resolving various types of disputes occurring under the act, and requiring copyright licensing, the 1957 Act established a copyright office and a copyright board in India. The Act defines copyright infringement and offers both civil and criminal sanctions for it.

Although the 1994 amendment was rather extensive, only modest adjustments were made by the 1999 amendment, and most of the changes were made to the act in 2012.


The development of the printing press in the fifteenth century, which made it feasible to widely duplicate and disseminate written works, is credited with the beginning of copyright law.

The Statute of Anne, the first copyright law, was adopted in England in 1710. This law gave authors the sole authority to decide how their works were used for a period of 14 years, with the option of extension for an additional 14 years. Because it introduced the idea of balancing the rights of creators and the public, the Statute of Anne is seen as a turning point in the history of copyright law.

The Copyright Act of 1790, which gave writers the exclusive right to manage the publishing of their works for a term of 14 years with the option of renewal for an additional 14 years, established the first copyright law in the United States. The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Expansion Act of 1998, which increased the term of protection for works created after 1978 to the author’s lifetime plus 70 years, was the most recent expansion to the length of copyright protection.

International laws and agreements, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, now control copyright law. These agreements are designed to strengthen global intellectual property rights protection and harmonize copyright laws across various nations.


The Copyright Act of 1847 was passed by the British government to safeguard the works of British authors and publishers in India during the British colonial era, which is when India’s copyright laws first came into existence and Introduction to Copyright Law in India took place. Later, in 1911, the law was changed to include Indian authors in the extension of copyright protection. The previous copyright legislation from the British era was updated in 1957 after India attained independence in 1947. Original literary, dramatic, musical, and creative works as well as cinematic films and sound recordings were protected by the Copyright Act of 1957. The act also created India’s Copyright Office, which is in charge of copyright registration and management.

The Copyright Act has undergone numerous revisions throughout the years to keep up with evolving technologies and global trends. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which obliged India to give enhanced copyright protection to conform with international norms, was signed by India in 1994 when it joined the World Trade Organization.

The Copyright Act was strengthened in 2012 to improve copyright enforcement and protection in India. the protection of performers’ rights, measures for digital rights management, and stiffer punishments for copyright infringement were all included in the changes. Overall, India’s developing approach to intellectual property rights and efforts to strike a balance between the interests of authors and users of copyrighted works are reflected in the history of its copyright laws.


The Copyright Act, of 1957, last changed in 2012, governs copyright law in India. Original literary, theatrical, musical, artistic, and cinematic works, as well as computer programs and sound recordings, are all protected by the Act.

The following are some of the major provisions:

  • The author of a work is given copyright protection for a length of time equal to their lifespan plus 60 years.
  • Protection under the law is automatic and does not call for registration.
  • The Act offers both civil and criminal repercussions for copyright violations.
  • The use of copyrighted material for specific purposes, such as criticism, reviews, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, is permitted by fair use principles.
  • The Act enables the creation of copyright organizations, which oversee gathering and distributing payments to copyright owners.
  • The Act also includes safeguards to safeguard the rights of performers, such as the right to stop unauthorized broadcasting and recording of their performances.
  • Overall, the Indian Copyright Act seeks to balance the needs of users and the public while fostering creativity and defending the rights of authors and producers.



The Indian copyright law benefits authors, publishers, and consumers of creative works in several ways. Among these advantages are:

  • Protection of intellectual property: Copyright law gives creators the sole authority to decide how their works are used, including for reproduction, distribution, and adaptation. By providing an incentive for creators to devote time, energy, and resources to generating original works, this protection promotes creativity and innovation.
  • Economic benefits: By allowing creators and publishers to make money from the commercial use of their works, copyright protection can have a positive financial impact on both parties. Additionally, this may support the expansion of sectors including publishing, music, cinema, and software.
  • Cultural preservation: By preventing traditional cultural expressions and folklore from being used and exploited without permission, copyright law can also assist preserve and promote cultural heritage.
  • Access to knowledge: The fair use clauses and copyright limits included in copyright law permit the use of works protected by copyright for research, education, and other purposes.
  • International recognition: India’s copyright laws are in line with international conventions and accords, enabling Indian artists to have their works protected abroad and facilitating the interchange of creative works between nations.

In India, copyright law generally plays a significant role in fostering creativity, economic development, preservation of culture, and knowledge access.


The Indian copyright legislation is hampered by several issues. A few of these are:

  • Piracy: Widespread illicit copying and dissemination of works protected by copyright constitute a serious problem in India. This covers anything from software and literature to music and movies. The inability of piracy to be effectively enforced and punished makes it challenging for copyright owners to defend their rights.
  • Lack of knowledge: The public is not well-informed about copyright law and the rights of copyright owners. Many people are not aware that it is prohibited to reproduce and distribute copyrighted works.
  • Lack of people, money, and experience result in inadequate enforcement, despite the existence of copyright laws and enforcement procedures.
  • Protracted legal processes: Copyright owners may find it challenging to bring legal action against infringers in India because of the country’s notoriously drawn-out and drawn-out judicial processes.
  • Some of the Copyright Act’s provisions are out of date and do not take into consideration the most recent advancements in technology and digital media. Because of this, copyright holders in the digital era find it challenging to defend their creations.

CASE STUDIES– Introduction to Copyright Law in India

Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. v. Myspace Inc. and Ors

A significant copyright dispute in India was resolved in 2019 by the Delhi High Court ruling in the case of Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. v. Myspace Inc. and Ors. Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. (SCIL), a music label, sued Myspace and various Indian ISPs in this case for hosting and disseminating copyrighted content that belonged to SCIL without authorization.

SCIL demanded monetary damages and a permanent injunction on Myspace and the ISPs after alleging that they violated copyright. The defendants maintained that under Indian law, they were only intermediaries and not accountable for unlawful content.

The Delhi High Court found Myspace and the ISPs accountable for copyright infringement and dismissed the defendants’ arguments. The court determined that the defendants had real knowledge of the illegal content and had ignored SCIL’s repeated efforts to remove it.

The Indian Information Technology Act’s safe harbour protections, which in some cases shield intermediaries from responsibility for third-party information, were also ruled by the court to be inapplicable to the defendants. The defendants were found to have violated the safe harbour protection obligations, including the necessity to remove infringing content after being notified by copyright owners. The decision, in this case, is noteworthy because it establishes intermediaries’ responsibility for copyright infringement under Indian law and highlights the significance of adhering to safe harbour clauses. Additionally, it emphasizes the requirement for efficient enforcement procedures in India to stop online copyright infringement.

Tata Chemicals Ltd. v. Union of India

The case of Tata Chemicals Ltd. v. Union of India is one notable copyright case in India in which the government was unsuccessful. In this case, Tata Chemicals Ltd. sued the Indian government for violating its copyright in a program it created to determine the customs duty that must be paid on imports and exports.

The government and Tata had a contract for the development and delivery of the copyright-protected software program. Tata, however, claimed that the government violated its copyright when it later permitted a third party to use the program without first obtaining consent from it.

The government claimed that since the software program was a “public record” under Indian law and so exempt from copyright protection, it had not violated Tata’s copyright. The software, according to the government, was developed for the general good and was required for the customs agency to operate.

The Delhi High Court, however, disagreed with the government’s claims and determined that the software was copyright protected. The court determined that copyright infringement had occurred since the government had let a third party to utilize the program without Tata’s consent.

Additionally, the court rejected the government’s argument that the software was a public record, noting that while copyright law allows for exceptions to copyright protection for some works produced by the government for public use, this exception does not apply to works produced by private parties like Tata.

This case serves as a reminder of how crucial it is to respect copyright protection, even when the government may feel that other factors, such as public policy, should come first. It also emphasizes the necessity of strong enforcement procedures to safeguard copyright owners’ rights in India.

CONCLUSION– Introduction to Copyright Law in India

Because it enhances a nation’s national cultural heritage, copyright law is seen as an essential law of protection. But the more literary, theatrical, musical, or creative works are protected in a nation, the cleverer creations there are and the more renowned they are. We might conclude that these are the basic requirements for the development of the economy, culture, and society.

Hope you liked all about Introduction to Copyright Law in India.


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