Exceptions to Infringement under the Copyright Act, 1957

Last Updated at: Sep 07, 2020
Copyright Registration
Exceptions to Infringement under the Copyright Act, 1957


  • Intellectual Property

  • Copyright

  • Copyright Infringement

  • Limitations and exceptions in Copyright Laws

  • What constitutes copyright infringement exception

  • The doctrine of fair dealing


Intellectual Property

The principle of conditional grants to the proprietary rights in any intellectual property is to promote the public interest. The world recognizes and integrates into the intellectual property system. A person infringing any such intellectual property is at fault. Enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights should be-

  • Be favourable to economic and social welfare.
  • Safeguard a person’s fundamental rights.
  • Promote competition commerce and innovation.


A copyright is a kind of intellectual property protection. The Indian law grants it to the proprietors for their original works. The works are taken into the copyright account be it a literary work, musical, artistic, dramatic, cinematographic and also sound recordings. Examples for literary works include computer programs, books etc. 

Under section 13 of the Copyright Act 1957, the proprietor can protect their work from being copied or remade without given permission. The works are protected and only the proprietors can exercise the copyrights. The rights can be exercised for adaption, reproduction, publication, translation etc. 

Talk to IP experts

For an applicant to register for a copyright, the work needs to be an original and not a replica of someone else’s work. The owner can register their work for copyright by applying for copyright registration.

The copyrights provide legal protection for the author and their work. Similarly, with copyright, the owner can avoid their work being used by others illegally. It also protects the work from local or global infringements.

Since the world considers copyrighted works as intellectual properties, they are all assets that provide monetary benefits to the owners. 

Copyright infringement

It is copyright infringement when one’s copyrighted work is used by someone else without permission. Many times, we can see people copying movies, music etc without authorised permissions. If the owners get their work copyrighted, then they are eligible for compensation for having their work infringed. The person who copies or uses the original work without permission must face a lawsuit and provide compensation to the original owner of the work.

If anyone wants to use any of the copyrighted work, then they can get permission from the owner. In some cases, they can pay to buy the copyrighted work from the owner.

Limitations and exceptions in Copyright Laws

In Copyright Laws limitations and exceptions are provisions which in the public interest permit the use of copyrighted works without previous authorization or a license from the owner.

In general, limitations and exceptions to copyright are subject to a 3 step test set out in the Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works. The Berne Convention provides that a limitation or exception to the copyright is permissible only if-

    • Covers special cases.
    • Does not clash with the normal exploitation of the work.
    • Does not arbitrarily bias the legitimate interests of the author.

Standard limitations and exceptions are different from country to country in their scope and number.

What constitutes copyright infringement exception:

In India, Section 52 of the Copyright Act, 1957  offer for certain acts, which do not constitute an infringement of the copyright or considered copyright infringement exception. Namely fair dealing with a literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work not being a computer program for the reasons of-

  • Private use along with research.
  • Review or criticism.
  • Reporting present events in any print media.
  • By a cinematographic film or broadcast or by any means of photographs.
  • Reproduction of the judicial proceeding or of a report of the judicial proceeding.
  • Publication or reproduction of the musical, literary, dramatic or artistic work in any work prepared by the secretariat of the legislature.
  • The reproduction of any literary, musical work or dramatic in a certified copy made or supplied in lines with any law for the time being in force.
  • The recitation or reading in public of any reasonable extract from the published literary or dramatic work.
  • The publication in the collection, primarily composed of non-copyright matter, bona fide intended for the sake of educational institutions.
  • The making of sound if made with or by the license or consent of the owner of the right in the work.

The doctrine of fair dealing

The Copyright Act, 1957 does not explain the term “Fair Dealing”. It is a legal doctrine, which allows an individual to make restricted use of the copyrighted work without the permission of the owner.

Whether an individual’s use of the copyrighted material is “fair” would depend wholly upon the circumstances and facts of a given case. There is only a small gap between “fair dealing” and infringement. In India, there are no particular guidelines that explain the number of words and passages can be used without permission from the author. Only the Courts can explain this. We can also say that the extracted portion should be in such a way that it does not affect the author’s main interest. Hence, fair dealing is an important limitation on the special right of the copyright owner. However, the court understands the economic impact it has on the copyright owner. Where the economic impact is not important, use may consist of fair dealing.

The fair nature of the dealing is mainly based on the four factors. They are-

  • The purpose of use.
  • The kind of work.
  • The amount of the work used.
  • The effect of the use of work on the original.
A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.