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Characteristics of Copyright

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Manish Jindal

December 16, 2023


0min read

Characteristics of Copyright

Copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to creators, ensuring that their original expressions receive the recognition and control they deserve.

This article centers around the characteristics of copyright and sheds light on its importance in protecting creative works.

From literature to music, art to films, copyright plays a vital role in fostering creativity, encouraging innovation, and safeguarding intellectual property.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to creators of original works.

It ensures that creators have control over how their creations are used and allows them to be recognised and rewarded for their efforts.

Imagine you wrote a captivating novel.

Copyright would give you the sole right to decide who can publish, distribute, or make copies of your book.

Others would need your permission to use your characters or story in a movie or adapt it into a play.

Copyright empowers original creators to protect their creations and encourages a thriving environment of innovation and creativity.

History of Copyright Law in India

The history of Copyright Acts in India showcases the evolution of intellectual property rights in the country.

Let’s take a look at the key milestones:

Back in the day when the East India Company was calling the shots, India’s inaugural Copyright Act was born in 1847.

According to the Act, a copyright is valid for 42 years, or the author’s lifespan plus an additional seven years.

If the original owner declines, the government has the authority to grant publishing licenses after the author’s death.

This Act was later replaced by the Copyright Act of 1914.

The Copyright Act of 1914 marked a significant shift and is considered the first “modern” copyright law in India.

It encompassed various forms of art and literature, inspired by the English law of 1911.

This adaptation aimed to facilitate the dissemination of literature across the colonial subcontinent.

In 1957, the Copyright Act of 1914 was superseded by the Copyright Act of 1957, which introduced noteworthy amendments.

This statute in India pertains to intellectual property rights and is considered the oldest.

The journey of copyright legislation in India highlights the country’s efforts to protect the rights of creators and foster a favorable environment for artistic and literary works.

Related Article: Basic Copyright Law

Characteristics of Copyright

Copyright possesses several distinct characteristics that are essential to grasp.

Some of its characteristics are as follows:

  1. Creation of Copyright Statute: Copyright is established by laws enacted in various countries to protect the rights of creators. These laws define the scope of copyright and outline the privileges it grants.
  2. Monopoly right: It bestows creators with exclusive rights over their works. This means they have the authority to control who can reproduce, distribute, display, or make adaptations of their creations.
  3. Negative right: It is considered a negative right because it grants creators the power to restrict others from using their works without permission. It allows them to determine how their works are utilised, and others must seek authorisation to use them.
  4. Economic right: Copyright provides original creators with economic benefits by allowing them to monetise their works. For instance, authors can sell their books, musicians can license their music for commercial use, and filmmakers can distribute their movies in exchange for payment.
  5. Moral rights: In addition to economic rights, copyright also includes moral rights. These rights protect the integrity of the creator’s work and enable it to be attributed to the original author. They also grant the right to object to any modifications or distortions that could harm the creator’s reputation.
  6. Work must be original: Copyright protection requires that the work be original, meaning it displays a certain level of creativity or novelty. It should not be a mere reproduction or copy of someone else’s work.
  7. Copyright exists in expressions of ideas: Copyright safeguards the specific expression of ideas rather than the ideas themselves. For instance, while copyright can protect a book about a magical school, it cannot prevent others from writing their own stories set in a magical school.

By comprehending these characteristics, we can appreciate the purpose of copyright and how it safeguards the rights of creators, encouraging a thriving creative environment.

Notable Features of the Indian Copyright Act

The Copyright Act of 1957 wields its mighty pen in India, guarding the masterpieces of brilliant creators and artistic maestros alike.

It gives protection to original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, cinematographic films, and sound recordings.

The Act was enacted to give effect to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

The salient features of Copyright are as follows:

  1. Ambit of copyright protection: The Act provides comprehensive protection to various forms of creative works, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. It also covers cinematographic films, sound recordings, and computer programs.
  2. Exclusive rights: The Act grants copyright owners exclusive rights over their works, including reproduction, adaptation, distribution, public performance, and communication to the public. These rights allow creators to control and monetise their creations.
  3. Duration of protection: Copyright protection generally lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 60 years after their death.
    • The duration of copyright may differ for anonymous or pseudonymous works, cinematographic films, sound recordings, and government work.
  4. Fair dealing provisions: The Act allows for fair dealing with copyrighted works for certain purposes, such as research, criticism, review, news reporting, or educational use. This promotes access to knowledge while balancing the rights of copyright owners.
  5. Licensing and collective rights management: The Act enables copyright owners to license their works through agreements, allowing others to use their creations while ensuring fair compensation. Collective management organisations play a role in administering and licensing copyrights on behalf of multiple creators.
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    Remedies and enforcement:
    The Act provides remedies for copyright infringement, including civil remedies such as injunctions, damages, and accounts of profits. It also establishes criminal penalties for deliberate infringement.
  7. Establishment of Copyright Office and Copyright Board: The Indian Copyright Law includes provisions for the creation of a dedicated Copyright Office and a Copyright Board to facilitate the registration of books, and artistic works, and address copyright-related disputes.
    • Under Section 9 of the Act, the Copyright Office is established as the designated entity responsible for the implementation of the Act.
    • Additionally, Section 11 of the Act provides for the establishment of the Copyright Board.
  8. International copyright obligations: The Act aligns with international copyright treaties and conventions, fostering cooperation and harmonisation of copyright laws at a global level.


The law of copyright encompasses a set of distinctive characteristics that play a vital role in safeguarding creative works and intellectual property.

At its core, copyright is designed to protect original material, serving as a shield for the intangible creations of the human mind.

One key aspect of it is its limited duration.

Copyright protection is granted for a specific period of time, allowing creators to enjoy the exclusive rights to their works for a reasonable span.

During this time, rights holders have the authority to control the use and distribution of their artistic creations, granting them a bundle of rights.

The concept of copyright guarantees authors a collection of rights, including economical rights, equitable rights, and ethical rights.

These encompass various elements of copyright, such as reproduction, distribution, and public performance.

The rights holders can license their works, granting permission to others while maintaining control over their intelligent creations.

In cases where copyright infringement occurs, both civil remedies and criminal remedies are available.

By recognising and upholding copyright, society acknowledges the value and importance of original creation of humans.

Copyright protection encourages creativity and innovation, ensuring that creators are appropriately rewarded for their efforts.

It fosters a framework where intellectual property rights are respected and serves as a foundation for a vibrant and dynamic cultural landscape.


What is copyright?

Copyright, a fundamental concept in the field of intellectual property, encompasses a bundle of rights granted to creators and authors to protect their original works of the human mind.

It guarantees authors exclusive rights over their artistic creations, offering legal protection for a limited period of time.

What does copyright protect?

Copyright safeguards expressions of ideas and not the notions themselves.

It safeguards expressions of originality, acknowledging the intangible property created through the human mind’s intelligent and artistic endeavors.

The laws prohibit the unauthorised reproduction, distribution, performance, or display of original works without the permission of the owner.

How long does copyright protection last?

The duration of copyright protection is limited, providing a reasonable period of time for creators to enjoy the benefits of their works.

It varies depending on the country and the type of work.

In India, copyright protection typically lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 60 years after their death.

Do I need to register my work to have copyright protection?

No, copyright protection exists automatically once an original work is created and fixed in a tangible form.

Through copyright registration, creators establish a legal record of their ownership and gain additional benefits and protections. This also enables you to pursue legal remedies in case of infringement of copyright.

Can I use copyrighted material without permission?

Generally, using copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder is considered infringement.

However, there are certain exceptions and limitations, such as fair use, which allows for limited use of copyright-protected materials for purposes such as criticism, commentary, education, or parody.

Can the copyright be transferred or licensed?

Yes, copyright can be transferred or licensed.

Copyright holders can choose to assign their rights to another party through a transfer or enter into licensing agreements to permit others to use their work under specified conditions.

How can I ensure my work is protected by copyright?

To ensure your work is protected by copyright, it is recommended to mark your creations with the copyright notice.

This includes the addition of the copyright symbol (©), your name, and the year of creation.

It is recommended to register your work with the appropriate copyright office to receive added advantages and safeguards.

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