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Copyright and Related Rights

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Manish Jindal

December 12, 2023

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Copyright and Related Rights

Do you what is copyright and related rights?

Navigating the intricate landscapes of intellectual property rights can be a complex endeavor, and among these rights, copyright and related rights hold a pivotal position.

Copyright and related rights are legal terms used in the realm of intellectual property law to recognize and protect the rights of creators over their literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic works.

These rights are not just limited to the ownership and exclusive exploitation of these works.

But they also encapsulate a range of related freedom that are intrinsic to the broader framework of protection.

Related rights, also referred to as “neighboring rights,” typically protect the legal interests of individuals or entities who contribute to making works available to the public, such as performers, producers of phonograms (sound recordings), and broadcasting organizations.

In this discussion, we will dive deeper into the nuances of copyright and related rights, unpacking their significance, their scope, and how they function in the global and digital age.

Copyright and Related Rights

Copyright is a type of intellectual property right that gives creators of original works exclusive rights over their creations for a certain period of time.


This freedom is provided by the law of a country to the creator of original works in fields such as literature, music, drama, art, cinematography, and software.

These are some of the key freedoms granted by copyright:

  1. Reproduction Rights: The copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce their work. This means they can make copies of the work in various forms, such as printed publications or digital files.
  2. Distribution Rights: The copyright owner has the freedom to distribute copies of their work to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending.
  3. Public Performance Freedoms: This freedom allows the copyright owner to perform, display, or play their copyrighted work publicly. For instance, a musician would have the freedom to perform their songs at a concert.
  4. Moral Rights: These rights allow the author to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work that would be prejudicial to the author’s honor or reputation.
  5. Adaptation Rights: The owner has the freedom to modify the work to create new works, known as derivative works. For instance, an author has the freedom to adapt a book into a screenplay.
  6. Broadcasting Rights: The owner has the freedom to broadcast their work or give permission to someone else to do it.
  7. Translation Rights: The owner has the freedom to translate their work into different languages.

Copyright Laws in India

Together, they protect the rights of authors, artists, composers, and other creators by offering them the exclusive freedom to reproduce their work, communicate it to the public, adapt it, and translate it.

  1. Scope of the Act: The Act protects original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, cinematograph films, and sound recordings. This can include books, music, paintings, films, software, and even architectural designs.

  1. Duration of Copyright: Copyright in India typically lasts for the lifetime of the author plus sixty years after the author’s death. In the case of films, sound recordings, posthumous publications, government works, and works of international organizations, the term of protection is 60 years from the year following the year in which the work was first published.

  1. Rights of Copyright Owners: Copyright owners have the exclusive freedom to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or license their work. They also have the freedom to produce or allow the production of derivative works.

  1. Assignment and Licensing: Copyright owners can transfer their rights or grant licenses to others. However, assignments of copyright are only valid if they are in writing and signed by the assignor or by his duly authorized agent.

  1. Infringement and Remedies: Infringement of copyright, which is the unauthorized use of copyrighted work, is subject to civil and criminal remedies. These include injunctions, damages, account of profits, and in severe cases, imprisonment and fines.

  1. Fair Dealing: The Act provides certain exceptions under fair dealing where copyrighted works can be used without the permission of the owner. These include uses for private study, research, criticism, review, and reporting of current events.

  1. Registration of Copyright: While copyright protection is automatic upon creation of a work, registration with the Office in India provides legal evidence of ownership and can be helpful in cases of disputes or litigation.

  1. International Protection: India is a member of several international treaties and conventions on law, including the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Universal Convention. This provides protection to Indian works in many foreign countries and offers reciprocal protection to foreign works in India.

Related Rights to Copyright in India

Performers’ Rights

Performers (such as actors, singers, musicians, dancers, and other persons who act, sing, deliver, or perform) have exclusive rights to their performances.

Without their consent, no one can reproduce their performance, broadcast it, or communicate it to the public.

The term of protection for performers’ rights is 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the performance is made.

Sound Recording Rights

Producers of sound recordings have the exclusive right to make other sound recordings, sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire, any copy of the sound recording.

They also have the right to communicate the sound recording to the public.

The term of protection for sound recordings is 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the sound recording is published.

Broadcast Reproduction Rights

Broadcasting organizations have special freedoms known as “broadcast reproduction rights”. Without their consent, their broadcasts cannot be re-broadcasted or reproduced.

However, recording a broadcast for private use or for the purpose of carrying out archival functions by an official archive is permitted.

The term of protection for broadcast reproduction freedoms is 25 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the broadcast is made.

Protection of Performers with Copyright Rights

In India, the rights of performers are protected under the Act, 1957, which recognizes their contributions as creative expressions worthy of legal protection.

The amendments made to the Act in 2012 have further strengthened the freedoms of performers.

A ‘performer’ under the Act includes actors, singers, musicians, dancers, and other persons who act, sing, deliver, or perform in any way.

Here are the key aspects of performers’ freedoms under the Indian Act:

Right to Make Sound Recording or Visual Recording: No one can make a sound or visual recording of any performance without the consent of the performer.

If consent is given, the performer has the freedom to receive royalties in case the performances are commercially utilized.

Broadcasting and Communication to the Public:

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The performer has exclusive freedoms to broadcast their performance or communicate it to the public.

No one can broadcast or communicate to the public a performance, including through a satellite, without the performer’s consent.

Moral Rights: The performer has the freedom to claim authorship of the performance and to restrain or claim damages in respect of any distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the performance that would be prejudicial to his or her reputation.

Term of Protection: Performers’ freedoms are protected for a period of 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the performance is made.

Assignment and Licensing: A performer can assign or license his or her freedoms with respect to a performance.

However, the assignment will be valid only if it is in writing and signed by the performer or his or her duly authorized agent.

Neighbouring Rights in Copyright

Neighbouring rights, also known as copyright and related rights, are a set of exclusive freedoms that are similar but distinct from the rights of holders.

These freedoms are designed to protect the legal interests of certain individuals or organizations who contribute significantly to the communication, dissemination, and cultural vitality of works, even though they do not create the work itself.

Here are the key categories of neighbouring freedoms under international and many national laws:

Performers’ Rights

Performers (e.g., actors, singers, musicians) often have exclusive freedoms to authorize the broadcasting, recording, reproduction, and other uses of their performances.

For example, a singer may have freedoms in a recorded performance, separate from the freedoms the songwriter holds in the song itself.

Producers’ Rights

Producers of phonograms (sound recordings) have the exclusive freedom to authorize or prohibit the direct or indirect reproduction of their phonograms.

For instance, a music producer who produces a track for an artist holds certain rights to that track, distinct from those of the artist.

Broadcasting Organizations’ Rights

Broadcasting organizations have exclusive rights to authorize or prohibit the rebroadcasting, recording, and other uses of their broadcasts.

Rights of Makers of First Fixations of Films

Makers of first fixations of films (often the producer or film studio) have the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit the reproduction, distribution, public performance, and other communication to the public of their films.

In the digital era, these rights have become increasingly important.

They enable the individuals and organizations who invest considerable time, effort, and money into bringing works to the public to control the use of their contributions and to be compensated for their efforts.

It’s worth noting that the precise nature and scope of neighbouring rights can vary significantly from country to country, reflecting differences in national law, policy, and cultural practice.

Hence, for specific advice and guidance, it’s often a good idea to consult with a legal professional or a relevant industry organization.

How to Seek Copyright Protection?

Seeking copyright protection is an important step for creators to secure their legal rights over their original works.

Here are the general steps to seek protection, though the exact procedure can vary depending on your country:

Create an Original Work

Copyright protection is only available for original, creative expressions in tangible forms.

This includes literary works, musical compositions, dramatic works, artworks, architectural designs, and software, among other things.

Ideas, facts, and common knowledge cannot be copyrighted.

Understand that Copyright is Automatic

Copyright protection is automatic once an original work is created and fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

There’s no requirement to register or publish the work, or to display a notice, for the work to be protected, although these can provide additional legal advantages.

Consider Registration (if available in your country)

Even though registration isn’t required for copyright protection, it can provide valuable benefits.

For example, in the United States, you generally need to register your copyright before you can bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

Registration can also serve as prima facie evidence of ownership in court.

Registering Your Copyright

If you decide to register your copyright, you will typically need to complete a copyright application form, pay a registration fee, and submit a copy of the work.

The specifics of this process will depend on your country’s office.

Mark Your Work

While not mandatory, it’s a good practice to include a copyright notice on your work, as it reminds the public that your work is protected.

A typical copyright notice includes the copyright symbol © (or the word “Copyright” or abbreviation “Copr.”), the year of first publication, and the name of the copyright owner (e.g., © 2023 John Doe).

Keep Evidence of Your Work

Keep early drafts, notes, sketches, and any other material that documents the creation of your work and can help establish when it was created.

Monitor Use of Your Work

Regularly check if others are using your work without permission.

If you find potential infringement, you might want to consult with a copyright attorney to understand your options.

Renew Your Copyright (if required)

In some countries, such as the United States, copyright registration can be renewed for certain kinds of works.

Check the rules applicable to your country and type of work.

Conclusion

In conclusion, copyright and related rights play a fundamental role in nurturing creativity and cultural diversity.

They grant creators and other key contributors to the creative process the right to control and benefit from their creations.

From authors to performers, from producers of sound recordings to broadcasters, each have their role acknowledged and protected, which in turn encourages continued investment in creativity and innovation.

However, navigating copyright laws can be complex.

This is especially so in the digital age where the dissemination of works is quick and wide-ranging, leading to new challenges and legal questions.

Therefore, it’s essential for creators and users alike to understand the basics of copyright and related rights to ensure lawful and respectful use of creative works.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do copyright and related rights protect exactly?

Performers are protected against certain unauthorized uses of their performances.
Producers of phonograms have the right to authorize or prohibit the reproduction of their phonograms.
Broadcasting organizations have the right to authorize or prohibit certain uses of their broadcasts.

How long does copyright last?

The duration of copyright varies by country. Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 50 to 70 years.

For certain types of works like sound recordings and broadcast, the duration may be different, often shorter.

Is it mandatory to register a work to receive copyright protection?

No, copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of an original work.

However, registering a copyright can offer additional legal benefits, such as serving as evidence of ownership in a dispute.

What is fair use or fair dealing in copyright law?

Fair use (in the U.S.) or fair dealing (in many Commonwealth countries) are doctrines that allow limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders.

These uses can include criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. The exact rules and exceptions vary by country.

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