CopyrightsIntellectual Property

Copyright: Definitions & Registration Procedure

Twitter’s recent blocking of India’s IT and Telecom Minister’s account for an hour on the grounds of copyright violations brings into focus India’s own Copyright Act as contextualized for digital media content.

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Copyright is designed as the right over an original piece of work owned by an individual. It is fixed in a medium of expression letting the copyright holder exclusively reproduce, perform, distribute, and display the work. The original creator and the person who obtained rights to the work can register a copyright on the same.

Taking a cue from the English Copyright Act of 1911, the first-ever Copyright Act in India was enacted in 1914. Once India achieved independence, the Copyright Act of 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 over an original work owned by an individual, 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 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 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:

  1. The creator of the work
  2. Any person claiming to have obtained the ownership rights from the creator of the original work
  3. An agent who has been authorized to act on behalf of the aforementioned people

GET COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION

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, and 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 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 include 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 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 that:

  • 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 or transfer of ownership, rent the work, lease the work, etc.
  • Any of the copyrighted work can be performed and displayed readily in public 
  • These rights hold across all platforms, be it literature, music, drama, choreography, cinema, films, audiovisual 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 analyzing any objections that may come up against the copyright application

1. In case of no objection

The application goes ahead for scrutinization by an examiner. This scrutiny gives rise to two options:

In case of the discrepancy found during scrutiny:

A letter of discrepancy is sent to the applicant. Based on the reply from the applicant, the Registrar conducts a hearing regarding the alleged discrepancy.

Once the discrepancies are sorted out 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 discrepancies:

This would mean that the copyright application fulfils all criteria 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)

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 procedures take place:

Authorities send out letters to the two concerned parties, trying to convince them to privately resolve the objection.

After requisite replies from the third party, the Registrar conducts a hearing.

Depending on whether the Registrar accepts the reply, the procedure then proceeds to take shape as previously described.

3. 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 three scenarios:

In case of the discrepancy found during scrutiny:

A letter of discrepancy is sent to the applicant. Based on the reply from the applicant, the Registrar conducts a hearing regarding the alleged discrepancy.

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

In case of zero discrepancies:

This would mean that the copyright application fulfils all criteria 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 receives a letter of rejection)

If the 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 receives the copyright and can legally exercise all rights that come with the owner of that copyright.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law. It is registered to protect original pieces of work such as music, art, literature, cinema/film, photography, or a computer program. There are in-depth categories that can be registered for copyright by the creators. It will give exclusive and complete rights to the creator of the work.

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