All you need to know about the basics of Copyright Registration

Last Updated at: Sep 24, 2020
All you need to know about the basics of Copyright Registration
France’s competition regulator stated that, following some months of refusals to adhere to Europe’s latest digital copyright law, Google must begin to compensate media outlets for their content to display.


The Global Innovation Policy Centre (GIPC) of the US Chambers of Commerce released the International Intellectual Property Index for 2020 in February. India has been ranked 40 in this index.


Copyright is the legal right that is granted to the creators of any original work. It could be for cinematograph films, sound recordings, literary, dramatic, musical and other artistic works, like paintings, novels, books, songs, musical pieces, poems, etc. Copyright prevents unauthorized uses of the original work, including reproduction, communication to the public, translation, and all other forms of adaptation. 

In India, the system of copyright is governed by the Indian Copyright Act 1957 with intent to protect the creativity of every writer, musician, poet, lyricist, painter, sculptor, etc.

Classes of work for which copyright protection is available in India

Copyright can be registered for a particular work under the following classes:

Literary work: A literary work can be defined as a work that aims to offer information or instruction either through writing or printing or using some form of notations and symbols. 

Examples: Textbooks, magazines, poems, catalogues, songs lyrics, novels, computer programmes or codes, tables and compilations including computer databases, etc. 

Dramatic work: According to Section 2h, Copyrights Act, dramatic work is defined as, “ any piece for recitation, choreographic work or entertainment in dumb show, the scenic arrangement or acting, form of which is fixed in writing or otherwise but does not include a cinematograph film.” Choreography and scenic arrangements mean designing and arranging a stage dance in symbolic language. 

Examples: Plays, choreographic shows, mime, etc. 

Artistic work: Artistic work means paintings, sculptures, drawings (including charts, maps, diagrams and plans), engravings and photographs, architecture (any building or structure that has artistic work) and other works of craftsmanship.

Musical work: A work that consists of music and graphical notations without including words or actions can get copyright protection. The author of musical work is termed, “composer”.

Example: Music of a particular song can be protected whereas the lyrics of the song fall under “literary” work. 

Cinematograph films: Cinematograph is a visual recording accompanied by a sound recording produced in any medium, by any method. Every recorded work with moving visuals and images are considered.

Example: Video films

Sound recordings: As per the Act, a sound recording is defined as any recorded audio regardless of the medium it is produced. 

Example: A phonogram or CD ROM

Protect Your Intellectual Property

Who are the owners of copyright?

Usually, the author of a work is the first owner of the copyright. Based on the work registered, the owners of copyright could be a composer, (musical work), producer (cinematograph film and sound recording), photographer (photograph). In the case of literary, dramatic or artistic work produced by an author during his/her course of employment, the employer reserves the right to be the first owner. However, if there are agreements and contract this may not be applicable. 

Copyright owners have the liberty to assign the copyright to any person either partially or wholly subject to limitations. It can be assigned in writing or by authorising an agent specifying the period, the amount of royalty payable, if any, to the author or his legal heirs. The assignment can be revised, extended or terminated on mutual terms agreed upon both parties. If no time period is specified, it shall be deemed to be five years from the date of assignment applicable across India.

Rights offered to copyright holders

Following are the rights conferred on the owner or “author” of a work. 

  • Right to reproduce the work
  • Right to issue copies of the work and communicate to the public
  • Right to perform the work in public
  • Right to make cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work
  • Right to translate
  • Right to make any adaptation of the work
  • In the case of computer programmes, the author has the right to sell or rent the work, even if he had already rented or given it for sale earlier. 

Click here: How To Obtain Copyrights In India?

What does an adaptation mean?

Adaptation is the preparation of new work from an already existing work. Under the Copyright Act, adaptations are defined as:

  • Converting a dramatic work into a non-dramatic work
  • Converting a literary or artistic work into a dramatic work
  • Re-arrangement of a literary or dramatic work
  • Depiction in a comic form or through pictures of a literary or dramatic work
  • Transcription of a musical work or any act involving rearrangement or alteration of existing work.

Term of copyright protection

As a general rule, copyright once registered is valid for 60 years. For original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, the time period of 60 years is counted from the year following the death of the author. Whereas for cinematograph films, photographs, and sound recordings, and government works and works of international organizations, it is counted from the date of publication. 

Guidelines for copyright registration

Generally, copyright comes into existence once the work is created and no registration is required. But getting a copyright registration certificate will help the owner in claiming the ownership of the original work in a court of law if it is misused or replicated. Copyright can be registered online anywhere across India. According to the Copyright rules, some of the basic guidelines are:

  • Application for registration to be made on Form IV
  • Separate applications to be filed for registration of each work
  • Each application must be accompanied by the requisite fee as prescribed
  • Application has to be signed by the applicant 
  • Both published and unpublished work (also called manuscripts) can be registered. Copyright can also be sought for work published before 21st January 1958, i.e., before the Copyright Act, 1957 came into force, provided it still enjoys copyright.
  • Three copies of published work must be sent along with the application. If it is an unpublished work, a copy of the manuscript should be sent along with the application. 
  • If two copies are sent, one will be duly stamped by the Officer and returned to the copyright applicant and the other will be kept confidential at the Office for reference. 
  • While sending manuscripts, the applicant can choose to send only the extracts from the work. The applicant can also ask the Officer to return the extracts after being stamped. 
  • If an unpublished work is registered and later published, an application may be filed for changes. 

Common copyright infringements

Some of the common acts of copyright offence that can be a criminal offence are: 

  • Making infringed copies of original work and letting them out for rent or sale
  • Distributing infringed copies for money 
  • Public display of infringed copies
  • Import of infringed copies 

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