1. Note on meaning of Copyright and characteristics of Copyright.

A: The evolution of copyright law in India started way back in 1914 during the British Regime. The first Copyright Act in India was a complete replica of the English Copyright Act of 1911. It was further modified to make it applicable in India. The 1914 Act was continued with minor modifications until 1957 Act was bought into force w.e.f 24th January, 1958 shortly after independence. The Act of 1957 repealed the Act of 1914. India also became a member of Berne Convention, Rome Convention, UCC, TRIPS, WIPO etc for the sole purpose of giving international recognition of copyright laws. The present copyright act of 2012 seeks to bring the provisions of copyright act in conformity with World Intellectual Property organization (WIPO).

As the name suggests copyright means the right to copy. In plain words, the owner of copyright has an exclusive right over his work and is entitled to make copies of the same. Copyright as per Oxford means “the exclusive right to publish or record a work”. It can also be defined as an intangible right which is granted to the owner of literary or artistic work to multiply copies for a specified period and publish the same. Copyright has the important place in Intellectual Property Rights which is important only with respect of works authored by the individual but also because it includes different kinds of work. Copyright is the exclusive right to do or to do certain acts in relation to literary works, dramatic, musical and artistic works, cinematograph film, sound recording and computer database.

Section 14 of the Copyright Act defines copyright as “the exclusive right to do or authorize others to do certain acts in relation to i. literary, dramatic or musical work, ii. Artistic work, iii. Cinematograph film and iv. Sound recording.” Copyright is a creation of statue and its primary object is to protect the owner/ author of the original work from unauthorized reproduction or use of his work i.e infringement. Any kind of infringement of the original work holds the infringer civilly and in certain circumstances, even criminally liable.

As long as the work is original, the author of such work has the right over it for her lifetime plus 60 years for her published literary, dramatic, artistic and musical work. Copyright law is designated to prevent copying of existing physical material in art and literary work. The objective is to protect the writer or owner from the unlawful reproduction of work.

The basic characteristics of Copyright are:

  • Originality: Copyright can subsists only in original work. No copyright can subsist in any unauthorized reproduction of work or in a work which is not originated from the author.
  • Negative Rights: Copyright protects the owner of the original work from others. In other words, one cannot use the authors / owner’s works without his/her permission or consent. Since the right is prohibitory in nature, the same is a negative right available to the author against all.
  • Exclusive Rights: One of the main features of copyright is that it is an exclusive right. It’s a kind of monopoly right excluding other from using the same.
  • Multiple Rights: Copyright consists in various rights in the same work. The statute has provided for owners/ authors of copyright with various rights such as reproductions, adaptations, translations of such work.

Apart from being original work it should also satisfy the following conditions:

  • it should be first published in India.
  • if the work is first published outside India, the author must be the citizen of India at the date of such publication. However, if such publication is made after the author’s death, the author must have, ay the date of his death a citizen of India.
  • in case the work which is unpublished, the author should be at the date of making such work citizen of India or domiciled in India.

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Shipra DhankerTopper for Delhi Judicial Services 2019