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  • 1. COPYRIGHTSC opyright grants exclusive rights over creative and artistic works for a limited period of time. The objective of the copyright law is to promote creativity through grant of such exclusive rights. It is believed that exclusive rights provide economic incentives forauthors to create new works for the benefit of society. Once the limited term of exclusivityexpires, the copyright protection over the work expires and the work falls into the publicdomain. Works in the public domain act as the basis for creation of new works.Nature of protectionThe Copyright law protects ideas expressed in a tangible form. Ideas by themselves do not getany protection under the copyright law. To get protection an idea should be expressed asliterary, dramatic, musical, artistic, cinematographic or photographic work or as a soundrecording1. Such an expression should be in a tangible form such as on paper, canvas, tape andso on. Expression in an electronic form is also considered to be a tangible form of expression.Example: If Rama writes a story on a piece of paper, it is considered to be an idea expressed asa literary work in a tangible form and he would get copyright protection over it. He would alsoget protection if the same story is written in Microsoft Word.If a single idea can be expressed by different persons in different ways all of them can getcopyright protection over their way of expression.For example: If three people draw the picture of Mother Teresa standing amongst slumdwellers in three different ways, all of them can get copyright protection over their specific wayof expression.A copyright protects only the expression and not the idea underlying such expression 2. It isdifficult to draw the line between an idea and its expression. Courts have been struggling todetermine where an idea ends and where its expression begins. The merger of the idea withthe expression is considered to be greater in the case of artistic, musical and cinematographicworks than in the case of literary works.1 The Copyright Act, 1957, Section 2 provides for the interpretation of the above mentioned expressions.2 The Copyright Act, 1957, Section 13: Works in which copyright subsists. © Brain League IP Services Private Limited - 2011 1
  • 2. Once a work falls into the public domain, the work is said to be an idea available to the generalpublic. Any person can use the work and get copyright protection over it. All works in the publicdomain are considered as ideas.Example: The epic Ramayana is in the public domain and any person can express the story inhis own way and get copyright protection over his way of expressing it.RightsA copyright grants a bundle of rights to the copyright owner. The rights granted by thecopyright may vary slightly based on the type of work being protected. All the rights granted bya copyright are exclusive rights, which mean that no person can exercise such rights withouttaking the copyright owners permission. The rights granted by the copyright law include:Right to Reproduce: No person can reproduce or make copies of the copyrighted work withoutpermission of the copyright owner. For example, if Dr. Kalam writes and publishes a book onrocket science, no one can make copies of that book without taking the permission of Dr.Kalam. Photocopying is considered as making copies of the book.Right to Distribute: A copyright owner gets the exclusive right to distribute copies of his workto different people. No one can distribute the copyright owners work without his permission.For example, if Rama writes a story book for children, no one can make copies and give thebook to children without Ramas permission.Right of Adaptation: Adaptation means converting a work into a different form or using thework on a different platform. No person can make an adaptation of a work without thecopyright owners permission. For example, if A wants to make a movie based on a detectivebook written by B, A has to take Bs permission.Right to make Derivative Works: A copyright owner gets the right to make improvements overthis work. No one can make such improvements without taking the copyright ownerspermission. For example, if Vinita makes a black and white painting of Krishna, no one else canadd colours without Vinitas permission.Right to Public Display: Public display of his work is the right of the copyright owner. No onecan publicly display a copyright owners work without his permission. For example, if X makesa sculpture, no one can display that sculpture at a public place without his permission. © Brain League IP Services Private Limited - 2011 2
  • 3. Right of Public Performance: A copyright owner has the right to publicly perform his work andno one can exercise such a right without his permission. For example, if X wants to sing a songwritten by A, he has to take As permission.Performers and Broadcasters RightsCopyright law grants certain rights to performers and broadcasters. These rights are of adifferent nature when compared to other rights under the copyright law and are thereforecalled as Related Rights.Performer’s Rights3: A performer gets the right to make audio or visual recording andbroadcasting of his performance. No one can make an audio/visual recording of a performancewithout taking the permission of the performer. Furthermore, the performance of theperformer cannot be broadcast live by anyone unless it is permitted by the performer. Forexample, If a record label wants to make a sound recording of a singer, it has to take thepermission of the singer. Furthermore, if a television channel wishes to give a live telecast of asingers performance, the channel has to take the permission of the singer.Broadcasters reproduction rights4: A broadcaster gets the right to record and rebroadcast thebroadcast. No person can make a visual or audio recording of a broadcast without thepermission of the broadcaster. Furthermore, no one can rebroadcast a broadcast and chargeviewers for viewing the broadcast without taking the authorization of the broadcaster. Forexample, if a TV channel wishes to rebroadcast a cricket match, they have to take thepermission of the TV channel that delivered the live broadcast. No one can make a videorecording of a live cricket match unless it is for private purposes.Term5The term of copyright varies from work to work. Term for different works is provided in thetable below:3 The Copyright Act, 1957, Section 384 The Copyright Act, 1957, Section 375 The Copyright Act, 1957, Section 22 - Section 29. © Brain League IP Services Private Limited - 2011 3
  • 4. Registration 6Copyright protection does not require registration. It starts from the time the work is created.However, registration of a copyright provides certain advantages. One of the most importantadvantages is that it gives rise to a presumption of ownership of the copyright and thereforegives the owner the right to sue an infringer in the court or law.Copyright Infringement7A person is said to infringe the copyright of the copyright owner, if he exercises the rights of thecopyright owner over the copyrighted work without authorization. In order for infringement toexist, the work that is alleged to infringe upon the copyrighted work should be substantiallysimilar to the copyrighted work. Infringement of a copyright in software by reproduction anddistribution is generally termed as piracy. The liability for infringement may be civil and/orcriminal.Fair use8A person would not be liable for violation of a copyright of another person if he makes fair useof the copyrighted work. Use of a work is said to be fair if the work is used for education, newsreporting, criticism and so on.6 The Copyright Act, 1957, Section 44 – Section 50A7 The Copyright Act, 1957, Section 518 The Copyright Act, 1957, Section 52 © Brain League IP Services Private Limited - 2011 4
  • 5. Suggested Further ReadingIndian Copyright BasicsProtect your website from Copyright LiabilityCopyright LawLaw of Copyrights and InfringementCopyright Registration in IndiaSalient features of Copyright Amendment Bill, 2010Who’s Intellect who’s property?Copyright limitation on media freedomValue of Intellectual Property for music bandsFile sharing vis-a-vis Fair use doctrineAnti Circumvention Laws to protect Digital RightsCircumventing around anti-circumvention law © Brain League IP Services Private Limited - 2011 5