Copyright in a nutshell

Published on 28 Jun 2016 by Team

Copyright aims at providing protection to authors (writers, artists, music composers, etc.) on their creations. Such creations are usually designated as“works”.

Indian copyright law is at equality with the worldwide guidelines as contained in TRIPS. The (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957, as per the revisions in the year 1999, completely mirrors the Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886 and the Universal Copyrights Convention, to which India is a gathering. India is additionally a gathering to the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Rights of Producers of Phonograms and is a dynamic individual from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ("UNESCO").

Copyright Covers certain work

Works covered by Copyright include, but are not limited to, literary works such as novels, poems and plays; reference works such as encyclopedias and dictionaries; databases; newspaper articles; films and TV programs; musical compositions; choreography; artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures; architecture; and advertisements, maps and technical drawings.Copyright also protects computer programs. Copyright does not, however, extend to ideas, but only to the expression of thoughts.

For example, the idea of taking a picture of a sunset is not protected by copyright. Therefore, anyone may take such a picture. But a particular picture of a sunset taken by a photographer may be protected by copyright. In such a case, if someone else makes copies of the photograph, and starts selling them without the consent of the photographer, that person would be violating the photographer’s
rights.

Protection For Copyright

Copyright protection is obtained automatically without any need for registration or other formalities. A work enjoys protection by copyright as soon as it is created. However, many countries provide for a national system of optional registration and deposit of works. These systems facilitate, for example, questions involving disputes over ownership or creation, financing transactions, sales, assignments and
transfers of rights.

Rights Under Copyright

There are two types of rights under copyright:

  • Economic rights, which allow the owner to derive financial reward from the use and exploitation of the work; and
  • Moral rights, which highlight the personal link existing between the author and the work.
  • Under economic rights, the creators of a work can use their work as they see fit.They can also authorize or prohibit the following acts- in relation to a work.

Moral rights Under Copyright

Under moral rights granted by copyright registration, the author may claim the right to have authorship recognized on the work. That is basically the right of the creator to have his or her name mentioned as the author, in particular when the work is used. The right to the integrity of the work, that is the right to object to the work being modified, or being used in contexts that may cause harm to the reputation or honour of the author.

Economic Rights Exploited

Many creative works protected by copyright require financial investment and professional skills for their production and further dissemination and mass distribution. Activities such as book publishing, sound recording or film producing are usually undertaken by specialized business organizations or companies, and not directly by the authors. Usually, authors and creators transfer their rights to these companies by way of contractual agreements, in return for compensation. The compensation may take different forms, such as lump-sum payments, or royalties based on a percentage of revenues generated by the work.

Judicial decisions

In Caterpillar Inc v Kailash Nichani the plaintiff, a foreign company, was carrying on business in several places in India including Delhi, through its Indian distributors and collaborators. The plaintiff claimed the relief of ad-interim injunction for preventing infringement of its copyright by the defendant, though the defendant was dealing in different goods. The Delhi High Court held that it was not necessary to show that the business being carried on by the plaintiff in Delhi should necessarily be in respect of footwear and articles of clothing as well. It is sufficient if the business was being carried on by the plaintiff in Delhi and further that there was an infringement of plaintiff’s copyright in respect of certain goods, which were being sold by the defendant in Delhi.

The court further held that section 62 of the Copyright Act makes an obvious and significant departure from the norm that the choice of jurisdiction should primarily be governed by the convenience of the defendant. The legislature in its wisdom introduced this provision laying down absolutely opposite norm than the one set out in section 20 CPC. The purpose is to expose the transgressor with inconvenience rather than compelling the sufferer to chase after the former.

Lachhman Das Behari Lal v Padam Trading Co the Delhi High Court observed that the plaintiff being a firm functioning at Delhi, the suit filed by it in the Delhi courts is maintainable and is not liable to be rejected under Order 7 Rule 11 of the CPC as prayed.

The Court further observed that the plea regarding want of territorial jurisdiction is not covered by Order7 rule 11 of CPC. The court observed that even if it is held that this court has not the territorial jurisdiction, the plaint cannot be rejected. At the most, it can be returned for presentation to the proper court.

Many authors do not have the ability or the means to manage their rights themselves. They often resort to collective management organizations or societies which provide for their members, the benefits of the organization’s administrative and legal expertise and efficiency in collecting, managing and disbursing royalties. These royalties are obtained from the national and international use of a member’s work on
a large scale, by, for example, broadcasting organizations, discotheques, restaurants, libraries, universities and schools.

Copyright contributes to human creativity by giving creators incentives in the form of recognition and fair economic rewards.Under this system of rights, creators are assured that their works can be disseminated without fear of unauthorized copying or piracy. This, in turn, helps increase access to the works and enhances the enjoyment of culture, knowledge, and entertainment all over the world.

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