Copyright: Definitions & Registration Procedure

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copyright registration procedure

Taking a cue from the English Copyright Act of 1911, the first ever Copyright Act was enacted in 1914. Once the country achieved independence, Copyright Act, 1957 was enacted and has seen amendments being made to it six times, the last being in 2012.

What is a Copyright?

Defined as the property right of an original work owned by an individual, a copyright is fixed in a physical medium of expression, thus enabling the holder to exclusively reproduce, distribute, perform, and display the copyrighted work.

The said work may include anything under literature, music, art, photography, cinema/film or even a computer programme, etc. Unlike a trademark, copyright just has a single symbol i.e. ©. The symbol can be placed on the original piece of work that has been created.

Who Can Register a Copyright?

The creator of the work, and the person who has obtained rights to the original work can register for the copyright.
It’ll be called ‘work made for hire’, if the said piece was created during the time of the employment. In such a case, the employee is not considered as the author or creator of the work. That title goes to the employer.

If a work has been created by two people, then they get co-ownership of the copyright, unless the people concerned want it otherwise

There is no age bar on obtaining a copyright. A minor can register one too.

If we had to narrow it down to three basic sets of people who can apply for a copyright, they would be:
a. The creator of the work
b. Any person claiming to have obtained the ownership rights from the creator of the original work
c. An agent who has been authorized to act on behalf of the aforementioned people

What Does a Copyright Protect?

It is a form of intellectual property law, which protects original works under literature, music, art, photography, cinema/film or even a computer programme. The copyright protects most of the works that are available in tangible form, including lyrics to a song, tunes, pictures, graphics, sculpture, piece of architecture, sound recordings, drama, choreographed works, parodies, signatures. All these must be viewed in more depth to get intricate details.

What is not Protected by Copyright?

There are various categories of work that don’t fit the bill for a copyright:
Those pieces of work that cannot be fixed in a tangible expression, like unrecorded works, performances of the improvisational kind, or any other speech / performance that has not been written or recorded. Works including titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; symbols or designs that are familiar with others; basic typographic finery, lettering, use of colouring techniques, lists of ingredients or contents. Ideas, systems, methods processes as distinguished from the said description, explanation or an illustration. Finally, facts and figures that are generic property cannot be registered for a copyright. These may include, standard calendars, charts of height/weight, information from public documents, and the like.

What are the Rights of the Copyright Owner?

The copyright gives complete and exclusive rights to the owner of the work:
The owner can choose to reproduce the work and/or authorize someone else to do it
Any derivative work that comes from the original work is carried out by the owner of the copyright or the authorized person
The owner can also distribute copies of his/her work to the public in any form i.e. sale of transfer of ownership, rent the work, lease the work, etc.
Any of the copyrighted work can be performed and displayed readily in public. And the rights hold across all platforms, be it literature, music, drama, choreography, cinema, films, audio visual works.

Steps for Copyright Registration

Step 1: Filing the Application

Along with the requisite fee, an application needs to be submitted either in DD/IPO. Once this application is filed, a diary number is generated and issued to the applicant.

Step 2: Examination

There is a minimum wait of 30 days for recording and analysing any objections that may come up against the copyright application

a. In case of no Objection:
The application goes ahead for scrutinization by an examiner. This scrutiny gives rise to two options:

1. In case of discrepancy found during scrutiny:
A letter of discrepancy is sent to the applicant letter is generated and sent to the applicant.

Based on the reply from the applicant, the registrar conducts a hearing of the alleged discrepancy row

Once the discrepancies are sorted during the hearing, the extracts of the same are sent to the applicant for him/her to register the copyright

2. In case of zero discrepancy:
This would mean that the copyright application fulfils all criterion required for the copyright. The applicant is then given the nod to go ahead with the registration of the same.
(If the registration is not approved, then the applicant received a letter of rejection)

b. In case of an objection filed:
While we listed above the scenarios of ‘no objections’, in case one is faced with an objection, the following proceedings take place:
Authorities send out letters to the two concerned parties, trying to convince them to take back the objection

After requisite replies from the third party, the registrar conducts a hearing

Depending on whether the registrar accepts the reply, the procedure takes shape

1. If the application is accepted:
The application being accepted means that the objection has been rejected. The application goes ahead for scrutinization by an examiner. This scrutiny gives rise to two options:

2. In case of discrepancy found during scrutiny:
A letter of discrepancy is sent to the applicant letter is generated and sent to the applicant.

Based on the reply from the applicant, the registrar conducts a hearing of the alleged discrepancy row

Once the discrepancies are sorted during the hearing, the extracts of the same are sent to the applicant for him/her to register the copyright.

c. In case of zero discrepancy:
This would mean that the copyright application fulfils all criterion required for the copyright. The applicant is then given the nod to go ahead with the registration of the same. (If the registration is not approved, then the applicant received a letter of rejection)

d. If application is rejected:
In case this happens, then the applicant receives a rejection letter that marks the end of the copyright procedure

Step 3: Registration

As can be seen from the aforementioned steps, the registration solely depends on the registrar. Once everything is cleared from the registrar’s end, the applicant received the copyright and can legally exercise all rights that come with the owner of that copyright.

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A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.

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