Vijay Pal Dalmia, Advocate
Supreme Court of India & Delhi High court
Partner: Vaish Associates Advocates
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Indian copyright law is at parity with the international standards as contained in TRIPS. The (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957, pursuant to the amendments in 1999, 2002 and 2012, fully reflects the Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886 and the Universal Copyrights Convention, to which India is a party. India is also a party to the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Rights of Producers of Phonograms and is an active member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
"Work" protected in India
Under the Copyright Act, 1957 the term "work" includes an artistic work comprising of a painting, a sculpture, a drawing (including a diagram, a map, a chart or plan), an engraving, a photograph, a work of architecture or artistic craftsmanship, dramatic work, literary work (including computer programmes, tables, compilations and computer databases), musical work (including music as well as graphical notations), sound recording and cinematographic film.
In order to keep pace with the global requirement of harmonization, the Copyright Act, 1957 has brought the copyright law in India in line with the developments in the information technology industry, whether it is in the field of satellite broadcasting or computer software or digital technology. The amended law has also made provisions to protect performer's rights as envisaged in the Rome Convention.
Registration of Copyright
In India, the registration of copyright is not mandatory as the registration is treated as mere recordal of a fact. The registration does not create or confer any new right and is not a prerequisite for initiating action against infringement. The view has been upheld by the Indian courts in a catena of judgments.
Need for Registration of Copyright
The awareness of Intellectual Property (IP) Laws is considerably low among the enforcement authorities in India, and most of the IP litigation is confined to metropolitan cities. Despite the fact that the registration of copyright is not mandatory in India and is protectable through the International Copyright Order, 1999, it is advisable to register the copyright as the copyright registration certificate is accepted as a "proof of ownership" in courts and by police authorities, and acted upon smoothly by them.
Enforcement of Copyright in India
The law of copyright in India not only provides for civil remedies in the form of permanent injunction, damages or accounts of profits, delivery of the infringing material for destruction and cost of the legal proceedings. etc. but also makes instances of infringement of copyright, a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years with a fine which shall not be less than Rs 50,000 (approx. US$ 800) but may extend to Rs 2,00,000 (approx. US$ 3,000). For the second and subsequent offences, there are provisions for enhanced fine and punishment under the Copyright Act. The (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957 gives power to the police authorities to register the Complaint (First Information Report, ie, FIR) and act on its own to arrest the accused, search the premises of the accused and seize the infringing material without any intervention of the court.
Protection to Foreign Works in India
Copyright of "works" of foreign nationals, whose countries are member of Convention Countries to which India is a signatory, are protected against any infringement of their "works" in India through the International Copyright Order, 1999. The Indian courts have also been pro-active for the protection of copyright of foreign authors/owners, which includes software, motion pictures including screen play of motion pictures and database.
The Government of India is also taking initiative to combat piracy in the software industry, motion pictures and the music industry along with players in the industry through their associations and organizations like NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Service Companies), NIAPC (National Initiative Against Piracy and Counterfeiting) etc.
Licensing and Assignment of Copyright
Copyright in any work, present or future, can only be assigned or licensed in writing by the copyright owner or his duly authorised agent.
Duration/Term of Copyright
In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, the duration of copyright is the lifetime of the author or artist, and 60 years counted from the year following the death of the author.
In the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organisations are protected for a period of 60 years which is counted from the year following the date of publication.
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