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Intellectual Property RightsTHE INDIAN COPYRIGHT ACT, 1957

the indian copyright act,197

The Indian Copyright Act 1957 came into effect from January 1958. 

This Act has been amended five times since then, i.e., in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994 and 1999, with the amendment of 1994 being the most substantial. Prior to the Act of 1957, the Law of Copyrights in the country was governed by the Copyright Act of 1914. 

This Act was essentially the extension of the British Copyright Act, 1911 to India.

copyright is an intellectual property right granted by a government that gives the owner exclusive right to use, with some limited exceptions, original expressive work. 

Categories of copyrighted works:

  • Literary: This is not an exhaustive definition but an inclusive definition. It includes computer programs, tables, compilations, databases. This category of works shall also include all traditional literary works including books, journals etc
  • artistic: painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving, photograph, architectural work or any work of artistic craftsmanship
  • musical: Any work consisting of music and includes any graphical notation of such work but does not include any words or any action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with the music
  • Dramatic: includes any piece of recitation, choreographic work or entertainment in dumb show, scenic arrangement or acting, form of which is fixed in writing or otherwise excluding a cinematograph film
  • Cinematograph films: Any work of visual recording produced through a process from which a moving image may be produced and includes a sound recording accompanying such visual recording
  • Sound Recordings: Means a recording of sounds from which sounds may be produced. 
  • Broadcaster’s rights: Any communication to the public by means of wireless diffusion whether in signs, sounds or visual images or by wire and includes a re-broadcast
  • Performer’s Rights: includes an actor, singer, musician, dancer, a person delivering a lecture or any person making any performance


Salient features of Indian Copyright Act

The Copyright Act consists of 15 chapters divided into 79 sections.

 Following are the salient features of the copyright Act.

    1. Chapter I contains the usual preliminary sections including the definitions. 
    2. A register kept at the Copyright Office, in which the names of titles or works and the names and addresses of authors, publishers, and owners of copyright are entered. 
    3. Chapters III to VI of the Act are really the heart and they deal with the meaning of a copyright and the works in which a copyright subsists, the ownership of a copyright and the rights of the owner (including on assignment of the copyright), the terms of the copyright and licences, etc. 
    4. Section 13 of the Chapter III clearly states that copyright will subsist throughout India in literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. Copyright also subsists in cinematograph films and sound recordings. 
    5. The work must, however, be first published in India or the author of the work must be a citizen of India. 


  • What exactly is the meaning and scope of a copyright in respect of the above classes of works has been explained in Section 14 of the Chapter III. 


Registration of a Copyright

Facilities exist for having a work registered with the Register of Copyrights maintained in the Copyright Office. The entries made in the Register of Copyrights serve as prima-facie evidence in the court of law.

The Copyright Office has been set up to provide registration facilities to all types of works and is headed by a Registrar of Copyrights.

  • Application for registration is to be made on Form IV ( Including Statement of Particulars and Statement of Further Particulars) as prescribed in the first schedule to the Rules ; 
  • Separate applications should be made for registration of each work;
  • Each application should be accompanied by the requisite fee prescribed in the second schedule to the Rules;
  • The applications should be signed by the applicant or the advocate in whose favour a Vakalatnama or Power of Attorney has been executed. The Power of Attorney signed by the party and accepted by the advocate should also be enclosed.
  • Both published and unpublished works can be registered. Copyright in works published before 21st January, 1958, i.e., before the Copyright Act, 1957 came in force, can also be registered, provided the works still enjoy copyright.
Licensing a copyright

Copyright Act deals with licencing of the copyright. The owner of a copyright is entitled to grant any interest in the copyright by a licence given by him in writing.

Infringement of a Copyright 

In terms of Section 51 of the chapter XI, a copyright is said to be infringed when a person violates the exclusive right of the owner of a copyright without a license having been granted to him to exploit the work commercially by way of sale or hire or distribution or exhibition. On the other hand, Section 52 of the Act provides that certain acts shall not constitute an infringement of copyright. 

Remedies in case of copyright infringement

There are civil remedies, criminal remedies as well as administrative remedies Sections 54-62 of the copyright act deals with civil remedies and sections 63-70 deals with the criminal remedies available to the owner of copy right for infringement of copyright.


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