23 Sep

What Does The Copyright Act Mean Exactly?

Copyright Act gives the author a bundle of exclusive rights over their work. These include:

  • Reproduction rights
  • The right to prepare derivative works (such as a screenplay from a novel)
  • The right to distribute the work to the public
  • The right to perform or display the work publicly

Many writers think they have to get their work registered for copyright, which is however not the case. You own the copyright to your work of authorship as soon as you write it down and publish it through a tangible medium of expression.

According to Act No. 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957:

“infringing copy” means —

in relation to a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, a reproduction thereof otherwise than in the

form of a cinematographic film. The definition is inclusive of the above but not just limited to it.

The Copyright Act was formed to promote the progress of art and enable such an environment where writers could freely create and distribute their work of art. But it has not been the case. Material from books are copied in the photocopy shops and pirated copies are sold for commercial gains by thousands of shopkeepers.

In case of infringement of copyright the owner of copyright can file a suit in a District court having jurisdiction seeking remedies by way of (i) injunction (ii) damages (iii) accounts or (iv) otherwise. Damages mean the loss in monetary terms suffered by the owner of copyright due to infringement. Copyright Act has been amended 6 times after it came into effect, to meet with national and international requirements. The 2012 amendments made the Copyright Law compliant with the Internet Treaties – the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). The amendment law ensures fair use in the digital era by providing special fair use provisions.

Indian Copyright Act, 1957 protects “Databases” as ‘literary works’ under Section 13 (1) (a) of the Act which says that Copyright shall subsist throughout India in original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. Indian Copyright Act is upgraded enough to support the digital era Indian economy is in.

If you steal a book from a bookstore, you are called a thief and would face legal action. But what if you reprint a book illegally and mint money off it, what will you be declared as then? This is where the Indian Copyright law needs to provide more tooth. Indian government needs to regularise the piracy activities occurring across various book markets so that the authors and writers get the returns for their hard work and creativity.