The Indian Copyright Act 1957, as amended by the Copyright (Amendment) Act 1999 provides protections to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematographic films and sound recordings.

Copyright is given to the creators of a wide range of material, such as literature, art, music, sound recordings, films and broadcasts, economic rights enabling them to control use of their material in a number of ways, such as by making copies, issuing copies to the public, performing in public, broadcasting and use on-line. It also gives moral rights to be identified as the creator of certain kinds of material, and to object to distortion or mutilation of it. Material protected by copyright is termed a “work”.

Copyright is a right given to or derived from any works, and it is not a right in novelty of ideas.

It is based on the right of an original owner to prevent another person copying an original work.

The law of copyright provides the legal framework for the creation of works by the major cultural industries, the publishing, film, broadcasting and recording industries, and the computer, software industries. The object of copyright law is to encourage authors and owners to create original works by rewarding them with the exclusive right for a limited period to reproduce the works. The copyright law is to protect the author of the copyright work from unlawful reproduction or exploitation of his work by others.

The Copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. Unlike the case with patents, copyright protects the expressions and not the ideas. There is no copyright in an idea. Copyright does not ordinarily protect titles by themselves or names, short word combinations, slogans, short phrases, methods, plots or factual information. Copyright does not protect ideas or concepts. To get the protection of copyright a work must be original.

Copyright protects the rights of authors, i.e., creators of intellectual property in the form of literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings Ordinarily the author is the first owner of copyright in a work.

The Computer software is protected under the Copyright law.

Copyrights protection is automatic as soon as there is a record in any form of the material that has been created.

The registration of Copyright is not mandatory.

Under the Indian Copyright Act there is a provision to register copyright although this is voluntary. Creators can also take certain steps to help prove that material is this.

The owner of the copyright in an existing work or the prospective owner of the copyright in a future work may assign to any person the copy right either wholly or partially and either generally or subject to limitations and either for the whole term of the copyright or any part thereof. It shall be in writing signed by the assignor or by his duly authorized agent. It shall identify the specific works and specify the rights assigned and the duration and territorial extent of such assignment. It shall also specify the amount of royalty payable, if any, to the author or his legal heirs during the currency of the assignment and the assignment shall be subject to revision, extension or termination on terms mutually agreed upon by the parties.

India is a party to

  • the Berne Convention on Copyrigthts,
  • the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement,
  • the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Rights of Producers of phonograms, and
  • the Universal Copyright Convention.

The Indian law also offers protection to the performer’s rights, as under the Rome Convention. However, India is not member of  WIPO Copyrights Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).

The Copyright violator can be prosecuted under both civil and criminal law.

Under the Indian Copyright Law, a body called Copyright Board was created and is authorized to deal with certain kinds of disputes pertaining to copyright.