Copyright in Cinematograph Film refers to the legal protection granted to creators and distributors of original film works.

This protection encompasses a variety of rights associated with the reproduction, distribution, public display, and modification of the film.

Under law, a cinematograph film is generally considered a unique entity separate from its individual components.

This means that, while the film might include copyrighted material such as screenplays, music, or other pre-existing works, the copyright in cinematograph film itself covers the particular compilation and creative expression embodied in the film as a whole.

The creator of a cinematograph film typically holds the exclusive rights to authorise the reproduction, public performance, and adaptation of the work.

However, these rights are often transferred, sold, or licensed to production companies or distributors.

How to Copyright in Cinematograph Film India?

Prepare the Application

Fill in the application form (Form IV), which includes details such as the title of the work, the producer’s name, the nature of the work, and the language of the work.

You’ll also need to provide a clear description of the work and details such as where and when it was first published (if applicable).

Attach the Required Documents

If the application is being filed through an attorney, a specific Power of Attorney, officially stamped and signed by the applicant, should also be included.

The details of the Power of Attorney will need to be filled in Form II of the  Rules, 2013.

Submit the Application

The application form along with the requisite fees needs to be sent to the Office, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry in New Delhi.

Wait for Scrutiny

The Copyright Office will examine the application and may issue a letter of objection or discrepancies, if any, within 30 days of application.


If there are no objections and everything is found in order, the Registrar of Copyrights registers the work and issues a Certificate of Registration.

Public Notice

Upon receiving the certificate, the owner is recommended to publish a public notice in a widely circulated newspaper to let the general public know about the registration.

Copyright Registration Process for Cinematograph Film

The process for registering copyright for a cinematograph film varies depending on the specific jurisdiction. However, in general, the process follows these steps:

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This simply means the film must be recorded on a physical medium from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Creation of Original Work

The film must be an original work that provides some level of creativity.

It should not infringe on existing copyrighted materials unless appropriate permissions and licenses have been obtained.

Application Preparation

Complete the necessary application forms for  registration.

These forms typically require detailed information about the film, including the title, the names of the authors and producers, and the year and country of first publication.

Prepare Deposit

Along with the application, you are generally required to deposit copies of the film with the  office.

The deposit requirements can vary by country.

Submission of Application and Deposit

Submit the application, deposit, and a non-refundable filing fee to the copyright office in your jurisdiction.

This can often be done online or by mail.


After receiving the application, the office will examine it to determine if the material deposited constitutes copyrightable subject matter and if the other legal and formal requirements have been met.

Certificate of Registration

This certificate often serves as prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright in case of a legal dispute.

Copyright Holder Rights for Cinematograph Film

The copyright holder of a cinematograph film is granted a set of exclusive rights under  law. While the specifics can vary by jurisdiction, these rights typically include:

Reproduction Rights

This is the right to make copies of the film. This could be by duplicating a DVD or Blu-ray, or digital reproduction of the film.

Distribution Rights

The holder has the exclusive right to distribute copies of the film to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending.

Public Performance Rights

This right allows the copyright holder to exhibit the film publicly.

Right to Create Derivative Works

This allows the copyright holder to make changes to the film and to create new works based on the original.

Moral Rights

In some jurisdictions, the holder also has moral rights, which include the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the work.

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Right to Authorise or Prohibit

The holder has the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit the above-mentioned uses of their film.

Often, these rights are licensed to other parties (like a distributor) in exchange for payment.


In conclusion, copyright in cinematograph films plays a critical role in the movie industry, providing legal protection and fostering creativity and originality.

This unique form of law grants a set of exclusive rights to the holder, typically encompassing the reproduction, distribution, public performance, and the creation of derivative works based on the original film.

The process of registering copyright in cinematograph film involves several steps, including the fixation of the work in a tangible medium, creation of an original piece, and submission of a detailed application to the appropriate office.

However, the exact process can vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Despite its complexity, understanding the intricacies of law is vital for film producers, distributors, and creators alike.

It not only safeguards their creative expressions but also provides a legal framework for the commercial exploitation of the works.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a cinematograph film be copyrighted?

Under copyright law in many jurisdictions, cinematograph films are considered unique creative works separate from their individual components, granting them copyright protection.

Who owns the copyright in cinematograph film?

The rights can be sold, transferred, or licensed to others such as distributors or production companies.

How long does copyright last for a cinematograph film?

The duration of copyright protection varies by country.
In the U.S., for instance, copyright generally lasts for 70 years after the death of the last surviving principal director, author, or composer.

In India, it lasts for 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the film was first published.

What rights does a copyright holder have over a cinematograph film?

A copyright owner can distribute, reproduce, create and perform the copies. These can be based on the original art form.

What constitutes violation of copyright in cinematograph film?

Infringement occurs when someone uses a copyrighted cinematograph film without permission in a way that violates the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.