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Can a Programming Code Be Copyrighted?

Programming today is not just a hobby, it has become a field of expertise. If you have a software program, chances are that you create it yourself using programming code. However, do you own the copyright for your software? Read the article to know more.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright law in India is governed by the Copyright Act Public Performance 1957. Under this act, copyright subsists in original literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, including computer programs. Copyright would expire 50 years after the death of the author or 70 years after publication if the work were unpublished. Although computer programs are eligible for copyright protection in India, this rule has some exceptions. 

For example, a computer program published with its author’s express written consent is not subject to registration of copyright. Furthermore, computer programs published as part of an open-source software project are not subject to copyright protection. It is important to note that India’s copyright law differs from copyright law in other countries. For example, under copyright law in Canada, a program embedded into a machine or device without being modified is not subject to copyright protection. In contrast, under Indian copyright law, a program embedded into a machine or device without modification is subject to copyright protection. If you plan to publish a computer program in India, consult with an attorney or a reliable service provider such as Vakilsearch to ensure that your program falls within the boundaries of copyright law.

Intellectual Property Law in India

Indian law is quite unclear when it comes to programming code Copyright objection. While the Indian Copyright Act 1957 does not expressly mention code as a form of intellectual property. The Indian Supreme Court has held that computer programs are protected by copyright. It means that any programming code copyright can be protected in India. However, there is a fair amount of uncertainty surrounding whether the code is copyrightable in India. Furthermore, even if the code is copyrightable, the extent of protection available may be limited.

How Does a Copyright Protect Your Code?

Programming code copyright protects your code from being copied and used without your permission. Copyright law in India is similar to copyright laws in most other countries. To protect your code, register it with the Copyright Office of India.

Copyright Registration

How Long Does a Copyright Last For?

Copyright laws can vary from country to country. Still, copyright generally lasts the author’s lifetime plus 50 years.

Is Software Licensing Important in India

The Copyright Act, 1957 (C.A. No. 57 of 1957) governs copyright law in India. The Copyright Act protects original literary, artistic and musical works. It also protects cinematography films and sound recordings. Software is not explicitly mentioned in the Copyright Act, but it can be protected under certain circumstances. 

Generally, the software code can be copyrighted if it is created as a work of authorship. This means that the code itself is something that can be copyrighted, and not just the results or functionality that the code produces. For the software to be copyrightable, the code must be original and created by the developer. Furthermore, the code must be capable of being expressed in a form that is understandable to others. If these conditions are met, the developer may be able to protect their intellectual property by registering it with copyright authorities. However, there are some limitations to copyright protection in India. For example, the software cannot be registered if it was originally published without any copyright notice or if it is a collective work. Furthermore, copyright protection does not extend to computer programs that are part of a machine or apparatus or to schemes for protecting industrial property. Therefore, while software licensing benefits the developer, it is important to ensure that the software relied on by others has been properly licensed and that the licenses are valid.

Types of Software Licenses

In India, software licenses can come in two types: permissive and restrictive. Permissive licenses allow the user to use the software for any purpose. In contrast, restrictive licenses restrict the user to specific uses. For example, a restrictive Synchronization License Services might allow the user to use the software only for research purposes. Copyright law in India is based on the Berne Convention, which stipulates that works of authorship are copyrightable if they are not published before they are 70 years old. India has not yet ratified the Copyright Treaty of Rome, which would extend copyright protection to works created after the treaty’s ratification.

Under Indian copyright law, a computer program is considered a work of authorship. This means that a computer program can be copyrightable, and its author can receive copyright protection. To protect a computer program from being copied or reproduced without permission, its author may choose to file a copyright registration with the Indian Copyright Office.

A permissive software license allows users to use the software for any purpose. Under a permissive license, however, the author retains all rights to the software, and users cannot copy or distribute the software without the author’s permission. A non-permissive license, on the other hand, allows users to copy and distribute the software even if the author does not consent. International copyright law protects computer programs not just from being copied but also from being translated, adapted or otherwise modified. If you want your program to be protected under international copyright law, it must be published in certain jurisdictions.

How to Apply for the License?

If you are writing code for personal use, you can apply for a license from the Indian Copyright Board: If you are writing code for a company or organisation, you will need permission from the copyright holder. 


The answer to this question is yes, as copyright law in India does not specifically exclude software code from protection. However, there is a good chance that any copyright infringement would be considered an unfair trade practice and could lead to legal action.

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