Copyright Law

Copyright Licensing

In copyright licensing, a licensor may grant a license to authorize the use of copyright work to a licensee, sparing the licensee from a claim of infringement or unauthorized use brought by the licensor.

A copyright owner may grant a license and transfer some or all of his rights to others to exploit his work for monetary benefits, in exchange for a consideration. A license is different from an assignment as the licensee gets certain rights subject to the conditions specified in the license agreement but the ownership of those rights is not vested with him, whereas in case of an assignment, the assignee becomes the owner of the interest assigned to him. A license may be exclusive or non-exclusive.

The copyright owner of an existing work or the prospective owner of the copyright in any future work may grant any interest in the rights by way of license. However, in case of a license relating to copyright in any future work, the license shall take effect only when the work comes into existence.

Also, if a person to whom a license relating to copyright in any future work dies before the work comes into existence, his legal representative shall be entitled to the benefit of the license.

A License Agreement should delineate the following particulars:

  • Identification of the work and rights licensed
  • Duration of the license
  • Territorial extent of the license
  • Amount of royalty payable
  • Conditions relating to revision, extension and/or termination of license

Any dispute in respect of the license shall be settled by the Copyright Board.

Compulsory license

Compulsory licenses in respect of copyrighted “Indian work” may be granted by the Copyright Board in the following circumstances:

If the owner of the copyright in an Indian work, which has been published or performed in public, has –

  • Refused to republish or allow the republication of the work;
  • Refused to allow the performance of the work in pubic and by reason of such refusal the work is withheld from public;
  • Refused to allow communication of work to the public by broadcast, or in case of sound recording the work recorded in such record on reasonable terms.

The aforementioned “Indian work” includes:

  • An artistic work, the author of which is a citizen of India;
  • A cinematographic film or a sound recording made or manufactured in India.

Compulsory license in unpublished Indian works

In case of an unpublished Indian work, if the author is dead, unknown or cannot be traced, or the owner of the copyright in such a work cannot be found, any person may apply to the Copyright Board for a license to publish such work or its translation in any language.

The Copyright Board may, after making certain prescribed enquiries, direct the Registrar of Copyrights to grant license to the Applicant to publish the work or its translation. The same is subject to payment of royalty and other conditions determined by the Board.

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