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Copyright For Content Creators: Some Things You Need to Remember

Copyright law gives creators of original material a set of exclusive rights – the right to control the use of their work, the ability to earn from it, the right to duplicate it and the right to transfer/sell the ownership to someone else

Copyright is a legal term used to describe the protection accorded to creators’ rights over their literary and artistic works. With the advent of the internet age, it is becoming increasingly easy to pass off others’ work like ours and it is essential to prevent that from happening to ensure that a creator’s effort does not go in vain. Embark on a journey to understand the nuances of copyright content creators, empowering you to safeguard and navigate the realms of intellectual property in the digital landscape.

Who Are Content Creators?

Any individual involved in the creation of intellectual or artistic “works” in the form of poems, fictional characters, plays, motion pictures, musical compositions, sound recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, computer software, radio and television broadcasts and industrial designs is considered a creator and their creation is protected by Copyright laws in India. 

There can be multiple creators of a work who get co-ownership of the copyright.

Copyright For Content Creators: What Are My Rights?

Copyright law gives creators of original material a set of exclusive rights – the right to control the use of their work, the ability to earn from it, the right to duplicate it and the right to transfer/sell the ownership to someone else. Additionally, under Copyright Law, a work is original if it is an independent creation and utilises a certain level of skill, labour, judgement and effort to create it.

It is important to note that copyright protects only the tangible expression of ideas, and not the ideas, discoveries, concepts or theories themselves. Further, this implies that any form of thought has to be written down/artistically depicted in order to be protected by copyright law. Moreover, in certain countries, a single word does not qualify a copyrighted work. 

Content creators have different types of rights that can broadly be classified as; economic rights and moral rights – which have been discussed below.|

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Economic Rights

In short, economic rights affect the creator’s ability to make money from their work. Economic rights include – 

  1. reproduction/making copies (Online Copyright for Reproduction Rights)
  2. distribution of copies of the work. (Copyright in Sound Recording)
  3. performance of the work in public (Public Performing Rights)
  4. broadcasting or other communication of the work to the public
  5. translation of the work into other languages
  6. Adaptation of the work.

Further, national laws usually allow the transfer/granting of economic rights to third parties through temporary licencing or permanent assignment.

Moral Rights

Moral rights are independent of the economic rights of a creator. They are the author’s or creator’s special right which includes the – 

  1. Right of Paternity: The right for creators/copyright owners to have their work be anonymous, pseudonyms to them.
  2. Right of Integrity: Creators/copyright owners can object to changes to work that may harm the reputation or keep the work from being wrongfully used.

Unlike economic rights, moral rights cannot have a sale to another person. Therefore, even when exclusive rights are sold to a publisher or a broadcaster, for example, moral rights continue to remain with the original creator. Whoever acquires the economic rights to work will be able to exploit it, but in doing so they will be obliged to credit the author of the original work.

What Is Not Protected by Copyright for Content Creators?

Copyright does not protect: 

  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, or discoveries 
  • Works that are not fixed in a tangible form (such as a copyright for cinematograph films that has not been notated or recorded or an improvisational speech that has not been written down) 
  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans 
  • Likewise, familiar symbols or designs 
  • Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or colouring 
  • Mere listings of ingredients or contents.

Exceptions To Content Copyright

Despite the blanket protection of ownership that copyright provides, in certain circumstances, it is possible that the creator might not be the owner. For example, under the concept of “work for hire”, the agreement in regards to creating something for a person or a company usually stipulates that true ownership lies with them. Additionally, this also extends to certain companies’ agreements taking full ownership of whatever their employees create ‘on the side’ during the course of their employment.

How Do I Protect My Work?

Copyright for content creators is automatic, so the creator does not need to do anything to ensure that their work is protected by copyright. However, one can get their work registration at the Indian Copyright Office for legal proof of ownership during copyright infringement. 

Other things that you can do in order to protect your work include:

  • Adding the copyright symbol © to your work 
  • Providing your name 
  • Including your contact Information where permission can be obtained 
  • Years for which the copyright pertains
  • Including the phrase “All Rights Reserved”.

Why Do I Need to Protect My Work?

Copyright in India (and other countries which are a part of the Berne Convention) grants automatically i.e by virtue of the creation of a work. Usually, creators mark their work with the copyright symbol ‘©’ followed by their name(s) and the year in which the work was published. However, registering a copyright provides additional benefits. Primarily, the certificate of registration holds up as substantial proof of ownership in court. Further, in case of a legal dispute and enables the copyright holder to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees.

Moreover, copyright aids in monetizing one’s work. Further, provides a financial incentive for creators, especially small businesses. Moreover, for whose creations are more vulnerable to exploitation by multinational conglomerates. Additionally, any creation is an asset and deserves protection from others who might sell it as their own idea. Further, copyright helps prevent that, and as well deal with such infringement legally.

Public Domain

Once the term of copyright has expired, the formerly copyrighted work enters the public domain and may be used or exploited by anyone without obtaining permission, and normally without payment. Moreover, works posted on the internet are publicly available, but not generally in the public domain. Copying such works might therefore violate the author’s copyright.

Category of work Duration
  • Section 38 of the Copyright Act provides “Exclusive Right to Performers”, allowing them to do or authorize for doing the following:
  1. to make a sound recording or a visual recording of the performance, including:
    1. reproduction of it in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic or any other means
    2. issuance of copies of it to the public not being copies already in circulation
    3. communication of it to the public
    4. selling or giving it on commercial rental or offer for sale or for commercial rental any copy of the recording
  2. to broadcast or communicate the performance to the public except where the performance is already broadcast (how to apply for public performance license)
  • A performer can retain the performer’s rights even after giving the NOC.
Recording Artists
  • The copyright protection period extends to 60 years from the beginning of the year following the year in which the sound recording will be published. 
  • Producers of sound recordings have the right to authorize or prohibit reproduction, importation and distribution of their sound recordings and copies.
Cinematograph Films
  • Copyright shall subsist until 60 years from the beginning of the year. Next, following the year in which the film is published.
  • Distribution and Broadcasting Synchronization Rights can permit or prevent the public broadcasting of one’s work. Moreover, they fall under economic rights and contribute to raising finances in the case of feature films and television shows. 

These are the basics of copyright for content creators that you need to know about. If you want to know further about your right or register your work under copyrights law, contact our team.

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