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Copyright Law

Copyright law is governed by the Copyright Act, 1957, in India. It is formed to protect the original works of the creator. The owner of such rights can limit the rights to himself or can also assign such rights to some other person or entity. Detailed understanding about how Copyright Law is Different from Trademark law and Patent law, the Copyright Registration process, assignment of copyright, and remedies for infringement of copyright is discussed in the present article.

What is Copyright?

A copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives someone the sole right/authority to reproduce creative work. It describes the legal rights of the owner of Intellectual Property. The person who is in the possession of a copyright is the only person who can grant permission to some other person to use it by assigning the rights.

As per Section 13 of the Copyright Act, 1957, copyright law protects the classes of work, that is to say, original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, cinematograph film, and sound recording.

Copyright Law refers to a bundle of exclusive rights as stated under Section 14 of the Act to the owner of the copyright. These rights can only be exercised by the copyright owner or by any other person who is licensed by the copyright owner in this respect. These rights include the right to adapt, the right to copy, the right to print, the right to translate, the right to communicate.

Copyright protection is a very unique form of protection provided to the copyright holder. It commences the moment the original work is created. Thus, the registration of copyright is optional. However, copyright protects the expression of an idea and not the idea in itself.

For example, if an author has a theme in her mind but it is not present in the expressed form it cannot be copyrighted as it is intangible thoughts. Thus, copyright protection can be availed only when the original work is present in the expressed form.

The protection of creativity and the works of mind is not only limited to the borders of India. To safeguard the original work of creators India has entered into many International Conventions of Copyright, they are :

  1. Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works
  2. Universal Copyright Convention
  3. Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorized Duplication of their Phonograms
  4. Multilateral Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Copyright Royalties
  5. Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

The aim of being part of such conventions/ treaties is to protect the original works of the mind, being the subject matter of copyright law, regardless of their national borders.

What work does Copyright Protect?

  1. Writings: Books, articles, reviews, poems, essays, blogs, plays, movies, and broadcasts.
  2.   Website contents: Text, pictures, graphics, and even the page layout.
  3.   Computer programs: Business, personal, and entertainment.
  4.   Motion pictures or audio:  Movies, TV programs, and podcasts.
  5.   Music: Lyrics and instrumentals both recorded and performed.
  6.   Artistic works: Paintings, drawings, sculptures, graphics, maps, charts, and photography.
  7. Original architectural designs: Designs for municipal, commercial, and residential buildings, bridges, highways, and tunnels.

Why do you need copyright?

Copyright Registration makes sure that the creative work of the owner is not copied by someone else. No person will be granted permission to use the same without obtaining prior approval of the owner once registered.

It is not mandatory for the owner to get the Copyright Registration done. But it is always advised to get the original work of the creator to be registered. It gives a certain level of protection and security to the work of the owner. It provides motivation to the holder to create more work.

: Designs for municipal, commercial, and residential buildings, bridges, highways, and tunnels.

Case Law on Copyright

In B.K. Dani v/s State of M., 2005 CriLJ 876, it was held that once it is so registered the author is deemed to acquire an intellectual property right in it. The right arising from the registration of the book can be the subject matter of civil or criminal remedy so that without it the author can have no rights nor remedies though his work may be the original one.

Essential Documents required for copyright registration?

The documents that are required from Copyright Registration are:

  • In case of published work, 3 copies of the work;
  • 2 copies of manuscripts, if the work is not published;
  • Special power of attorney or vakalatnama signed by the attorney and the party, if the application is being filed by an attorney;
  • Authorization in respect of work, if the work is not the work of the applicant;
  • Information regarding the title and language of the work;
  • Documents regarding the name, address, and nationality of the applicant;
  • Mobile number and email address of the applicant;
  • In case the applicant is not the author, a document containing the name, address, and nationality of the author, and if the author is deceased, the date of his death;
  • If the work is to be used on a product, then a no-objection certificate from the trademark office is required;
  • If the work is published, the year and address of first publication is also required;
  • Information regarding the year and country of subsequent publications;
  • No-objection certificate from the author, if the applicant is not the author;
  • In case the publisher is not the applicant, a no-objection certificate from the publisher is required;
  • In the case of copyright is for software, then source code and object code are also required

How is a Copyright Different From a Patent or a Trademark?

Copyright protects the original work of the owner like artistic work, literary works, etc. while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Trademark law protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from others.

What is the difference between copyright trademark and patent?


What are the Copyright Services Provided by the LEGALLANDS?

3 Types of Copyright Services Legallands Can Provide

  1. Registration of Copyright
  2. Assignment of  Copyright
  3. Infringement of  Copyright

Registration Fees of Copyright?

The steps involved in the registration process are:

File an Application

  • The holder of the original work, through himself or through an authorized agent can file an application for registration physically or through e-filing from the government site i.e., copyright.gov.in
  • The application fees range from INR. 500/- to INR. 40,000/-. The application fees can be paid through demand draft (DD), Indian Postal Order (IPO) addressed to the registrar, or through an e-payment facility.

The Registration Of Copyright process involves 30 days waiting period for the examination of a Copyright application.


  • If no objection is raised against the copyright application, the examiner scrutinizes the application. Once the process of scrutiny of the application is complete, then the application is allowed to move forward.
  • In case, any objection is raised, then letters regarding the same are sent to both parties. Further, the parties are called for a hearing by the registrar. If in the hearing, the objection raised is rejected then the application moves forward for scrutiny by the examiner. However, if the objection is not clarified then a letter of rejection is sent to the applicant.


  • In the final stage, if the examiner is completely satisfied with the application filed by the applicant then a certificate of registration is issued to the applicant. The process is said to be complete when the applicant is issued the extracts of the Registration of Copyright (ROC).
  • The process of registration is indeed time-consuming and requires intensive attention at every stage. Legallands LLP is to provide complete guidance and completion of copyright registration in a hassle-free process on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights/applicant.


Assignment of copyright means the transfer of the ownership rights by the copyright holder to a person or organization. The Assignment of copyright involves the formation of an agreement between the parties i.e. the assigner and the assignee. The services for the same are provided by the Legallands LLP.

The holder of a copyright holds the ownership of the copyrights and all the rights are exclusive to the holder only. However, sometimes the holder may consider transferring his rights. For example- an author may do so by transferring the original work to the publisher.

The period of assignment of copyright is of 5 years if it is not specifically mentioned in respect to that of the time period of assignment of copyright.

Case Law on Assignment of Copyright:

In Pine Labs Pvt Ltd. V. Gemalto Terminals India (P) Ltd, & Ors., 2011(48) PTC248 (del),

  •  It was held that in the absence of the period of assignment or territory of assignment being specified, the assignment is deemed to be for 5 years, and territory is deemed to be the territory of India as per sections 19(5) and 19(6) of Copyright Act. After 5 years, the copyright reverts to the assignor.


 There are both merits and demerits to the assignment of copyright. Transferring the rights by an author to a publisher, demerits are that the author will get a lesser cut than if he had retained the rights to himself. Further, the author loses creative control over the work.

Assignment of copyright has its own merits. The publisher has more resources through which the author’s work increases in its distribution. It also helps the author to focus on the work of writing and not to go through the hectic commercial processes.



Owners develop new and original work and get copyright protection to guarantee that they can get benefit from their endeavors. The copyright holder has sole authority over his original work.

The owner of the copyright can sell his work or permit it to the outsider who can utilize his work. However, if somebody copies or repeats copyrighted work without the authorization of the owner, then that leads to copyright encroachment. In that case, the owner can make a lawful move against the infringer.

Case Law on Infringement of Copyright

R.G Anand vs M/S. Delux Films & Ors, AIR 1978 SC 1613, 

  • it is stated that if the defendant’s work is nothing but an imitation of the copyrighted work with slight variations it will amount to a violation of the copyright.
  • In other words, to be actionable, the copy must be a substantial and material one which at once leads to the conclusion that the defendant is guilty of an act of piracy.


  •  Civil Remedy: Section 55 of The Copyright Act, 1957, provides that if copyright in any work has been encroached upon, the owner of the copyright will be qualified for all such cures via directive, harms, and records.
  •  Criminal remedy: Section 63 of The Copyright Act, 1957, states that the copyright holder can take criminal procedures against the infringer. Punishment may extend to 3 years and with a fine of Rs. 50,000 and which may extend to 2 lakhs.


On understanding the Copyright law it can be said that Copyright law in India is strong and effective. The copyright law involves proper description and procedure of registration and assignment of copyright. Further, in case of infringement of copyright legal safeguard is provided to the aggrieved party.

India has become part of many Conventions/Treaties so that the protection of the original work of the holder/owner of the copyright does not get limited by borders.

The nation has a particularly stable and solid lawful base for the assurance of Intellectual Property Rights, the Court should assume a functioning part in the security of these rights, including the copyright. The circumstance is, in any case, not however disturbing as it seems to be seen and the current overall set of laws can adequately deal with any issues related to copyright encroachment.

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