As its name suggests, copyright protects works from being copied without permission. Copyright goes beyond mere copying, however, and extends to other activities such as making an adaptation of the work in question, performing or showing the work in public, broadcasting the work and dealing with infringing copies of the work. In India the term of copyright is 60 years.
The object of Copyright law is to protect the original work from an unlawful reproduction or exploitation of the work. Copyrights provide protection to authors of “original works that are produced in a tangible form of expression. The tangible form of expression need not be directly perceptible, so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. It protects original artistic, literary (including computer programmes, compilations and databases) and musical and cinematographic works produced through one’s own skill, labour, intellectual efforts and creativity. Copyright protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Copyright can be claimed in Literary Works; Computer Programs; Musical works (including any accompanying words), Dramatic works (including any accompanying music); Pantomimes and choreographic works; Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; Motion pictures and other audio visual works; Sound recordings; and Architectural works.
Copyright protection arises automatically on the work being created and does not depend on registration. But registration confers statutory rights and is prima-facie title of ownership.
Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in a fixed form and immediately becomes the property of the author who created it. Works authored by employees, working within the scope of their employment, are generally considered “works-made-for-hire”, in which case the employer, rather than the employee, is treated as the author and owner of the copyright in the work. Certain works by non-employees may also be “works-made-for-hire” but only if the parties involved agree in writing that the work will be treated as such. The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary. Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a whole.
The Indian Copyright Act gives the owner of a copyright exclusive right to produce the copyrighted word, produce derivative works based upon the copyrighted work, distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public, exhibit the copyrighted work publicly or by means of digital audio transmission, and display the copyrighted work or its portions publicly.
Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in a fixed form and immediately becomes the property of the author who created it. In certain cases, works may be authored by employees. These are known as ‘works-made-for-hire’. In such a case the employer is treated as the author and owner of the copyright in the work and not the employee. Certain works by entities, other than employees, may also be ‘works-made-for-hire’ but for that the parties involved have first to agree in writing that the work will be treated as for hire. Where a work is the result of efforts by more than one author, in such a joint work, the authors are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement specifically giving the right to one of the authors. Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a whole.
While copyright protection attaches to a work of authorship as soon as the work is fixed in a tangible medium, Indian Copyright Act also provides for registration of copyright rights. Copyright registration has many advantages, e.g., it forms a public record of the copyright claim as is available and without copyright registration, one cannot file a suit for infringement in a court of law. Prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the Certificate of Registration (if registration is made within five years of publication). In a suit for copyright infringement, the copyright registration holder can even claim statutory damages and attorneys fees.