What is Copyright for Reproduction Right?
The primary objective of copyright is to promote the progress of science and useful arts. The laws of copyright assure authors of certain exclusive economic and moral rights, thus giving them the right to rewards for their original expression. Copyrights can be granted in literary, dramatic, musical and cinematographic works, which are then considered useful for the society as a whole. The law of copyright enables the author to enjoy the benefits of their creation by giving them certain special rights such as the exclusive right to reproduce the work in any form, issue copies of work to the public, perform the work, make cinematographic adaptations or sound recordings etc. The Copyright Act, 1957 aims to create an atmosphere conducive to creativity in India by offering protection through grant of a copyright to the efforts of a wide variety of people - such as writers, artists, designers, dramatists, musicians, architects and producers of sound recordings, cinematograph films and computer softwares. This is done with the motive of inducing them to create more and motivate others in the society to create as well.
This right is available for a specific period of time during which no one else is allowed to enrich themselves at the cost of skill and labour of the original copyright owner that he or she has put in producing the work. However, this exclusivity of use that vests in copyright can also be passed on to another person. This can be done by granting consent to use, or by way of assigning the copyright to someone. Licensing the copyright to another person for an amount is also one way of giving the right of reproduction or use. Also, unlike physical assets, a copyright is an intangible asset granted for a specific period of time and therefore after the expiry of this period, the work passes on into the public domain and becomes a public property which can freely be used by anyone (reproduction rights).
The law envisages no protection in case the reproduction or broadcasting is done by making any sound recordings or visual recordings for the private use of the person making such recording for the purpose of teaching or research.
What do we mean by Copyright of Reproduction Rights?
The right of reproduction means that a person shall not make copies of a work or of a substantial part of it in any material form including sound and film recording without the permission of the copyright owner. The most common kind of reproduction is printing an edition of a work, however, reproduction can be in other forms as well - such as making a sound melody out of a written work, creation of a dramatic work based on a novel etc.
Benefits of getting sound recording copyrighted in India
At the onset, it must be clarified that in case of a musical work - the Copyright Act considers the “composer” of the musical work to be the author, capable of being granted the benefits of copyright protection. If the sound recording and composition are done under contractual terms, by commissioning a lyricist, singer etc, the employer who commissions the agent, is considered to be the first owner of the copyright.
- Since copyright is the legal protection of a bundle of rights, copyright in case on a sound recording exists for its various components such as lyrics of the song, musical composition, capturing the sound recording on tape etc.
- Each of the several rights existing in a sound recording can then be assigned, reassigned and licensed.
- Copyright Act also allows the owner of the copyright to reproduce the work, store it in any medium such as electronic devices, web access etc.
- The owner of a copyrighted sound recording can perform the work in public, make translations of it, make adaptations of the work etc. However, the performance of the work in “private” may not be given protection.
- The owner of copyright can bring an infringer of his or her copyright to the court. What the court will then assess is whether the infringed copy has misused or copied the skill and labour of the original producer.
- Expert evidence can also be taken to appreciate the differences between the two works.
- The author of the copyright also retains a right to have his name published in all copies of his work, and also prevent alteration and distortion of his original work.
- A voluntary licence can also be granted, whereby the copyright owner of the sound recording in any existing work or the prospective owner of such copyright in any future work, may grant any interest in the right by licence in writing.
Checklist for Reproduction Rights
- In case of assignment of a copyright, the right of reproduction would be available to the assignee only if the copyright assignment is in writing and signed by the assigner or his duly authorised agent. The assignment of copyright should also identify the work and specify the rights assigned and the duration and territorial extent of such an assignment. For example, we often see families of famous deceased music composers giving permission (therefore, assigning) and exclusive rights to reproduce works to music companies.
How to bring about a suit for infringement of reproduction rights of a copyright owner?
- If an individual without the consent or license of the owner of copyright does an act which falls in the exclusive domain of the copyright owner such as reproducing the work by distributing infringing copies, storing it in any medium by electronic means, it is considered as infringement of copyright and an action can be initiated in the court.
- For obtaining civil or criminal remedies against infringement of copyright reproduction, it is desirable that the work is registered.
- The question whether the work is an imitation or copy of another work is always a question of fact, therefore, the courts largely look at whether the infringed work bears the impression of the author’s labour and hard work. They may also consider the degree of resemblance, judged from the perspective of a rational onlooker.
- In order for an illegally reproduced copy to be considered as an infringement, the copy must be substantial and material, where fundamental expressions used in the owner’s copyrighted work are copied, and which may lead to the conclusion that the infringer is guilty of an act of piracy.
Documents required to Copyright Reproduction Rights
- Proof of infringement of the work - whether written in hard copy, digital form, musical form, cinematographic or any other medium.
- Actual documents proving the registration of copyright, the certificate received from the Registrar of Companies.
- Evidence of similarity between alleged infringed work and copyrighted work.
- If consent to reproduce is granted, proof of how the actual manifestation of reproduced work is in violation of consent given.
Frequently asked questions
Subject to certain conditions, the copyright law provides that there would be no infringement of the right of reproduction under copyright law if done for the purpose of research or private study, for criticism or review of the work, for reporting current events, in course of judicial proceedings, or performance by an amateur club or society if the performance is given to a non-paying audience.
A civil court can be approached for the grant of an injunction, that would stop the infringer from further publishing or storing copies of the copyrighted work in an illegal manner. Additionally, damages can also be awarded for the act of infringement.
Although registration is not a necessary precondition for bringing the suit against illegal reproduction of copyrighted material, it is considered favourable, as it helps establish a prima facie cause. In the absence of registration, an innocent person cannot be presumed to have knowledge of the existence of the copyright.
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