Indian copyright law is at parity with the international standards as contained in TRIPS. The (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957, pursuant to the amendments in the year 1999, fully reflects the Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886[1] and the Universal Copyrights Convention[2], to which India is a party. India is also a party to the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Rights of Producers of Phonograms[3] and is an active member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)[4].

Copyright of “works” of foreign nationals, whose countries are member of Convention Countries to which India is a signatory, are protected in India through the International Copyright Order, 1999[5]. It may be noted that since Norway has also ratified all the conventions mentioned above, thus “works” from Norway can seek full protection in India.

It is pertinent to mention herein that along with the (Indian) Trade Marks Act, 1999, the protection can also be obtained under the (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957 with respect to the artwork, layout, pattern, style, get-up and colour-combinations of packaging and labels which are capable of being registered under the (Indian) Trade Marks Act, 1999 as a trademark.


“Work” Protected in India

Under the (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957,

Ø  artistic work including a painting, a sculpture, a drawing (including a diagram, map, chart or plan), an engraving, a photograph, a work of architecture or artistic craftsmanship, dramatic work,

Ø  literary work (including computer programmes, tables, compilations and computer databases),

Ø  musical work (including music as well as graphical notation),

Ø  sound recording, and

Ø  cinematograph film

are protected.

The Indian Courts have also been pro active for the protection of Copyright of foreign authors/owners, which includes software, motion pictures including screen play of motion pictures and database.   The (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957 provides for both civil and criminal remedies against infringement of copyright in India.

The Government of India is also taking initiative to combat piracy in the software industry, motion pictures and the music industry along with players in the industry through their associations and organizations like NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Service Companies)[6], NIAPC (National Initiative Against Piracy and Counterfeiting) etc.


Need of Registration of Copyright

In India, the registration of copyright is not necessary as the registration is treated as mere recordal of a fact. The registration does not create/confer any new right and is not a pre-requisite for initiating action against infringement of copyright.

It is important to note here that there is no prescribed time limit within which registration of a copyright can be obtained. However, presently the registration of a copyright may take a period of 1 to 1 ½ years.

It is to be noted that awareness of Intellectual Property (IP) Laws is considerably low even among the enforcement authorities in India, and most of the IP litigation is confined to metropolitan cities. It is always advisable to register the copyright as the copyright registration certificate is accepted as a proof of ownership in a Court of law and Police authorities, and acted upon smoothly by them.

The law of copyright in India not only provides for civil remedies in the form of injunction, damages etc. but also makes instances of infringement of copyright, a cognizable offence punishable with 3 years of imprisonment and fine. The (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957 gives power to the police to register the Complaint (First Information Report, i.e., FIR) and act on its own without any further intervention of Courts.

Licensing and Assignment of Copyright

The copyright in any work, present or future, can only be assigned or licensed in writing by the copyright owner or his duly authorized agent.


Duration/Term of Copyright

In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, the duration of copyright is the lifetime of the author or artist, and 60 years 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 organizations are protected for a period of 60 years which is counted from the year following the date of publication.