The law of copyright in India is governed by the Indian Copyright Act 1957 (as amended).  The word “copyright” has  to be understood properly before we go deep into the subject.

Copyright  is basically is a Right given to the Creator of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. It is a bundle of rights like right to communication, reproduction , adaptation and translation of the work. It provides minimum protection to the creator over their creations. One must understand that copyright law is not applied rigidly , if applied so, it can hamper the progress of the society. Law is made to maintain a proper balance between interests of the creators and of the community.


Classes of work for which protection is available

a. Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works

“Musical work” means a 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. A musical work need not be written down to enjoy copyright protection.

An artistic work means a painting, a sculpture, a drawing (including a diagram, map, chart or plan), an engraving or a photograph, whether or not any such work possesses artistic quality;a work of architecture; and any other work of artistic craftsmanship.

 b. Cinematograph films

“Cinematograph film” means any work of visual recording on any medium produced through a process from which a moving image may be produced by any means and includes a sound recording accompanying such visual recording and “cinematograph” shall be construed as including any work produced by any process analogous to cinematography including video films.

c. Sound recordings

Sound recording” means a recording of sounds from which sounds may be produced regardless of the medium on which such recording is made or the method by which the sounds are produced. A phonogram and a CD – ROM are sound recordings.


Who is entitled to get protection ?

Copyright protects the rights of authors, ordinarily the author is the first owner of copyright in a work. The act has indentified some persons to be considered as Author as follows:

Serial No Nature of Work Author
1. Literary or dramatic work The person who creates the work
2. Musical work Composer
3. Cinematograph film Producer
4. Sound recording Producer
5. Photograph Photographer
6. Computer generated work The person who causes the work to be created


Rights under the Act:

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Term of protection of a copyright:

The general rule is that copyright lasts for 60 years. In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the 60-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author. In the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organisations, the 60-year period is counted from the date of publication.

Copyright – Infringement

The following are some of the commonly known acts involving infringement of copyright:-

  1. Making infringing copies for sale or hire or selling or letting them for hire;
  2. Permitting any place for the performance of works in public where such performance constitutes infringement of copyright;
  3. Distributing infringing copies for the purpose of trade or to such an extent so as to affect prejudicially the interest of the owner of copyright ;
  4. Public exhibition of infringing copies by way of trade;
  5. Importation of infringing copies into India



Any person who knowingly infringes or abets the infringement of the copyright in any work commits criminal offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act.The minimum punishment for infringement of copyright is imprisonment for six months with the minimum fine of Rs. 50,000/-. In the case of a second and subsequent conviction the minimum punishment is imprisonment for one year and fine of Rs. one lakh. The offence is a cognizable offence and action be taken by an police officer of a rank not less than of a sub inspector of police. No court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under the Copyright Act.



  3. Indian Copyright Act – Bare Act

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