CopyrightsLegal Advice

How to Copyright Your Work in India

Copyright is a legal term referring to the rights that authors and artists have over their literary and artistic works. Let us now see how to copyright your work in India.

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Creativity is the key to success. A developed economy is a creative economy. For the economic and social development of the country, it is important that we think out of the box and set our standards high by developing new and original work. This is where copyright laws play their role. 

Why do you ask? When you develop something creative or innovative, you will want to protect it because you have invested your precious time and effort into it. Furthermore, you would have also invested your intellect in it. This is why one copyright’s his work. Certainly, it is human nature to guard what is yours. 

In general, copying someone else’s work or misusing their right, and such infringement is governed by the Copyright Law. When you copy someone else’s work, you are committing the crime of copyright infringement.

The term ‘copyright’ is not defined in Indian copyright law. However, generally speaking, copyright is a legal right granted to creators, composers, artists, and producers for their original works. As a result, any person who copies another’s original work would be infringing the exclusive rights provided to the creator under the Copyright Act. Copyright protects the rights of authors over their creations by ensuring certain safeguards against intellectual thefts.

Copyright can be claimed for almost anything – be it a script, art, drama, music, compositions, or cinema – the only requirement is that it be original and not available in the public domain. If these conditions are met, then voila!! You have the right to copyright your work.

One distinctive characteristic of copyright law is that it only protects works that are truly original in nature and emphasizes creativity. Another type of work, which is derivative work, such as a remake, remix, or new version of previously existing work, is also considered to be original in its own right as it also requires creativity.

Let’s Understand the Difference Between Original Work and Work Available in the Public Domain

The term ‘original work ‘is not defined anywhere in the Copyright Act, and we must, hence, rely on judicial pronouncements to define it. To establish the term ‘originality’, the Court  has interpreted Section 13 of the Act and deemed that the following parameters must be taken into account:

  1. Whether the idea and expression are intrinsically connected. (Doctrine of Merger)
  2. Whether the work was created by the skill and labour of the author. (Sweat of the Brow Doctrine)
  3. Further, whether the work possesses a minimum degree of creativity. (Modicum of Creativity Doctrine)
  4. Whether the work is created with mere skill and labour or whether the work possesses skill and judgment. (Sweat of the brow/ Skill and Judgment Test)

Once these parameters are determined, and the answers are in the affirmative, then your work is considered to be original in nature and copyrightable.

On the contrary, public domain works are those that can be used by the public without any restrictions and are not protected by copyright law. When work is said to be in the public domain, the general public is considered to be the owner of that work, and using that work does not constitute infringement. Under such conditions, anyone can use the work for personal gain.

As a result, any work in the public domain cannot be infringed upon, and hence no remedies are available in such cases.


Methods to Protect Your Work

In India, copyright protection is automatic as soon as any work in any form of material is created. However, one of the safest and most efficient ways to protect your work is to register it and enjoy all of the benefits that come with being a registered copyright holder. The following are the benefits of getting your work registered:

1. Record of Public Ownership

The author of a work will be able to demonstrate his record of ownership to the public if copyright for the same is registered. This means that the author will be able to demonstrate that he owns the entire work. Because ownership is always a major deciding factor in all infringement cases, having a valid record of ownership will serve as prima facie evidence in infringement lawsuits.

2. Presumption of Ownership

Unless and until the contrary is proven, the person with registered copyright will be deemed the legal owner of the work. Anyone attempting to challenge his ownership must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the owner is not valid.

3. Enforcement in Case of Infringement

Though the Copyright Act does not require registration of the Copyright, it is however required in order to file a claim against an unlawful infringer and legitimately protect the work. If a copyright owner does not have a valid registration, he or she cannot easily win the suit.

4. Prevention of Monetary Loss

Piracy has become a major issue for certain websites or software and has resulted in financial losses for many businesses. One of the significant advantages of registration is the avoidance of those monetary losses that may occur as a result of piracy of copyrighted work.

5. Protects the Reputation of the Owner of the Work

Once work has obtained copyright registration, no one can use the work without prior permission of the owner. Furthermore, this is advantageous to the owner of the work, and the person’s reputation can be easily protected.

Core Legal Principle of Copyright

It is the core legal principle that registration comes after copyright, not vice versa. Copyright law, unlike the other IPR Regulations, does not require copyright registration for protection.

It is always advisable, however, to have your work registered because it serves as prima facie evidence. Nonetheless, the only thing that matters when it comes to the publisher’s right to copyright is that the work must be original in nature, and if that condition is met, one can easily protect the work.

In the case of copyrighted work, the similarity in the material will be tested to determine infringement. However, if the publisher 

  1. Grants license to anyone to use his work or,
  2. Further, sells any part of the work in public or,
  3. Fair use of the work is claimed, 

In such cases, the publisher’s rights to protection will be lost or extinguished. In a nutshell, copyright law does not always necessitate the registration of the work in order to claim legal protection. 

However,  the intellectual property rights attorneys at Vakilsearch always advise that copyright registration is necessary so as to claim certain additional legal benefits. Get in touch with our team to know more!


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