THE COPYRIGHT ACT, 1957

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The law relating to copyright in India can be traced back from the Copyright Right Act, 1914 which is an expansion of the Copyright Act of 1911 in Britain. In India, the law relating to copyright is contained in the Copyright Act of 1957. The legislation was enacted in consonance with various international Conventions like the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), 1995, WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, WIPO Copyright Treaty etc. According to the Copyright Act, 1957, ‘Copyright’ means the restricted right granted to the owner of a work to perform certain acts or empower the performance of such acts in relation to such works. The rights includes duplication of the work in any material nature, distribute replica of the work, performance of the work, translation and adaptation of the work etc.

The Act defines different terms like adaptation, work of architecture, artistic work, author, composer etc. Accordingly an author includes author of literary work, dramatic work, music composer, artist of an artistic work, photographer, producer of cinematograph and sound recording and creator of a computer generated work. Publication is expressed as the work accessible by the public by dispensing copies or making conversation with the public regarding the work. Any dispute relating to the publication of the work in India or abroad shall be decided by the Copyright Board and in this regard the decision of the Board shall be final. The Copyright Board shall be constituted by the Central Government with a Chairman and at least two and maximum fourteen other members. The Board shall be considered as Civil Court under the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code and the proceedings of the Board shall be judicial proceedings under Indian Penal Code.

The Act provides for the establishment of a Copyright Office under the direct power of the Registrar and the Registrar shall be supervised and directed by the Central Government. The copyright shall exist for certain categories of works like literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works which is unique in nature. The copyright also extends to cinematograph films, sound recordings and such other works specified under the Act. The provision of the Act does not apply to a design registered under the Designs Act of 1911.

The first owner of the copyright shall be the author of the work but subject to the conditions under the Act. Where the work was prepared in the course of employment in a newspaper or magazine or other periodicals, the first owner shall be the proprietor of such newspaper, magazine or periodicals. If the photograph or painting is prepared for valuable consideration for a person, such person shall own the copyright. The Government shall be the first owner where the work is done for the Government. The Act provides for the whole or partial assignment of the copyright for an existing work or work which is to be done in future either for the whole term or for a short duration. The owner of the copyright shall have the power to grant his interest in copyright to another person by way of license.

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The Act specifies the term for which the copyright shall subsist but the term varies according to the nature of the work. In the literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work, photography, cinematograph films, sound recording etc. the term of copyright shall be sixty years during the lifetime of the owner and such other conditions prescribed under the Act.

The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1994 provided for the constitution of Copyright Societies and such societies shall be registered according to the procedures laid down by the Act. The amending Act also confers certain rights on the Broadcasting institutes and Performers to be called as the Broadcast Reproduction Right for a term of twenty five years. The 1994 also added a new section dealing with the rights of performers for a term of fifty years.

The Copyright Act, 1957 provides for the registration of Copyrights in the manner prescribed under the Act. The Act describes infringement of copyright and provides civil remedies for the owner in case of infringement. The District Court is conferred jurisdiction under the Act to hear cases relating to infringement of copyright.

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The Copyright Act has been amended several times and at last in 2012 to comply with the national needs and international legal instruments. The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 introduced the technological protection and positive rights to the authors of artistic works, cinematograph films and sound recording. The Act also provides security against internet piracy and reforms on the powers and functions of Copyright Board. The Amendment made drastic changes to the Copyright law in India according to the needs of the society.