Indian Copyright Act

Copyright refers to the legal rights provided to an individual to secure their work of art from being infringed. No other person, other than the owner is legally permitted to use the work of art for commercial or business purposes. The owner of the original copyright, however, can further develop their work or modify it for a certain period of time.

Introduced in 1957 with the objective of protecting the rights of creators and promoting the work of art and creative expression in India, the Act consists of several regulations that have witnessed numerous amendments to adapt to the changing times. The development of technology and widespread use of the internet have offered accessibility to different works of art. Consequently, as much as it has offered commercial benefits and recognition to the creator, it has also made infringement more common and frequent than ever.

The Copyright Act in India offers protection to different types of works of art in India such as films, music, and dramatic and literary works in India. The Act ensures that works of art are not replicated by other individuals without the permission of the owner for a certain duration. This duration chiefly depends on the type of work. For instance, in artistic work in literary, musical, or dramatical domains, the duration can last as long as the author’s lifetime. For films, photographs and sound recordings, the copyright may last for 60 years.

Once the creator obtains the copyright of their work, they can publish, reproduce, or adapt the work freely without the fear of the work being replicated. The owner may also grant permission to others to use their work without losing their rights.

Licensing includes the grant of permission to reuse the work with certain restrictions and limitations. To put it simply, a copyright owner can allow someone else to use their work, in return for a fee. Hence, copyright licencing does not only protect the creator and their creation but also offers them an opportunity to monetise their work while permitting others to utilise the work of art for other purposes.

While the Act provides exclusive rights to creators, it doesn’t restrict others from expressing their opinions on the work. This is called the principle of fair use. Fair use permits the usage of copyrighted material for criticism, teaching, commentary, news reporting, and research, without acquiring permission or payment from the copyright owner.

The Act also features provisions to protect the rights of the performers and recognise their contributions to the industry. Performers have the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute recordings of their live performances.

Over the years, the Act has witnessed several amendments to adapt to the changing times and to address upcoming challenges. For instance, the amendments in 2012 witnessed new and modified provisions related to digital rights management. As India continues to evolve in the digital era, the Act will likely undergo further amendments to address the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies and changing modes of creative expression.


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