Understanding Copyright laws in India
Under the Copyright law in India, copyright subsists in all original published or unpublished literary, artistic, dramatic works etc. It is essentially a bundle of rights including but not limited to rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. Slight variations in the composition of the rights are possible depending upon the kind of work and its ownership, authorship and licensing. Copyright comes into existence as soon as a work is created, i.e., expressed in a tangible form, and no formality is required to be completed for acquiring protection. However, it is advisable to apply for registration of Copyright in India for its evidentiary value.
The Copyright Law in India came into existence under the legislation of 1914 this legislation was modelled after the Copyright Laws of the United Kingdom, the Copyright Act, 1911. The copyright laws in effect currently in India have grown and adapted overtime to be compliant to most of the international treaties and conventions that govern the field of Copyrights. The current functions in the field of copyright in India are governed by the Copyright Act, 1957 with amendments in the years 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1999, and 2012 along with the Copyright Rules, 2013.
The Copyright Amendment Act of 2012 is considered a major amendment as it brought with it some essential modifications for a more seamless operation of the Copyright Laws. The salient features of the amendment is as follows:
- The 2012 Amendment has incorporated the definition of the term ‘commercial rental‘ under section 2(fa).
- The term ‘hire’ in Section 14 which made it fall in consonance with the provisions of Article 11 of TRIPS Agreement, Article 7 of WCT and Article 9 of WPPT which provide for ‘commercial rental’ rights for computer programmes and cinematograph films, was replaced by the term ‘commercial rental’ itself by the Amendment.
- The term ‘storing’ has been incorporated under various Sections most notably under Section 14 which adds the recognition of the exclusive right of storing the work created in any medium by electronic or other means.
- The duration of copyright protection of a photograph has been put at par with that of a literary work, i.e. the lifetime of the author until sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the author dies.
- The 2012 Amendments, Sections 52(l)(zb) and 31B were inserted which stipulate exceptions and limitations for persons with disabilities, hence are referred to as special provisions for persons with disabilities.
- The Amendment also clarifies who the first owner is in respect of a work incorporated in a cinematograph film under the Amendments to Section 17.
- The Amendments also have added provisos under Section 18 of the Copyright Act which aim at providing certain safety measures to the author from any future modes of exploitation which may arise by way of technological advancements and which were not contemplated at the time of assignment.
- The Amendment has also provided for the option of relinquishment of rights under section 21. The author of a work can relinquish all or any of the rights in the copyright pf a protected work through a simple public notice.
- The Amendment changed the procedure for licensing under Section 30 and requires the license only to be made in writing.
- The Amendment made the provisions of compulsory licensing apply to international works as well, under Section 31.
- The Amendment also incorporated the statutory licensing provisions under Section 31C and Section 31D.
- The Amendment has also extended the fair dealing provisions under Section 52 covering all works (sans computer programme), including sound recordings and video recordings.
- The Amendments also brought in various changes for the registration and functioning of Copyright Societies under Chapter VII of the Copyright Act, 1957.
India is a member of the Berne Convention of 1886 (as modified in Paris 1971) as well as the Universal Copyright Convention of 1951. As recent as 2018, India has also given it acceded to the WIPO Internet Treaties, i.e. the WIOP Copyright Treaty, 1986 (WCT) and the WIPO Performance and Phonogram Treaty, 1996 (WPPT). These treaties are together called the WIPO Internet Treaties owing to the emphasis they put on the protection of rights in the digital environment.
The updated Copyright Rules of 2013 are available here.
The updated Copyright Act, 1967 is available here.
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