Copyright law is a legal framework that safeguards the rights of creators and promotes innovation and creativity across artistic, literary, and intellectual works.

It provides a legal structure that protects the legal rights of authors, granting them authority and benefits from their work.

Copyright law safeguards original works from unauthorised copying, distribution, and use, covering a range of products from books and music to films and software.

This article revolves around what copyright law protects and provides you with knowledgeable insight into it.

What is Covered by the Copyright Law?

Copyright law is a legal framework that grants exclusive rights to creators and owners of original works.

It protects a range of creative works, including books, music, art, films, and software.

The law gives creators the authority to control and benefit from their independent creations.

As per the law, creators possess the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, publicly display, and perform their works.

This means that others cannot copy or use their creations without permission.

The Indian copyright protection law aims to strike a balance between protecting the legal rights of creators and promoting the progress of arts and culture.

Copyright protection arises automatically when a work is created and fixed in a tangible medium, such as writing it down or saving it digitally.

However, creators can also register their works with the copyright office for additional legal benefits and enforcement options.

The purpose of copyright law is to encourage creativity, reward creators for their efforts, and foster a vibrant cultural ecosystem.

It serves as a foundation for ensuring fair compensation, promoting innovation, and preserving the legal rights of creators in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

What Does Copyright Law Protect?

Following are the works protected by copyright:

  1. Literary Works: This category includes books, novels, poems, articles, and other written works.
  2. Music: Original compositions, lyrics, musical arrangements, and sound recordings are protected under copyright law.
  3. Artwork: Paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and other visual arts are protected.
  4. Films and Audiovisual Works: Movies, documentaries, television shows, videos, and other audiovisual content are protected by copyright.
  5. Sound recordings: This includes recorded music, speeches, podcasts, and audiobooks.
  6. Architectural Works: Architectural designs, blueprints, and drawings are protected as creative works.
  7. Software: Computer programs, applications, and codes are protected by copyright law.
  8. Choreography: Original dance routines and choreographic works are protected.
  9. Dramatic Works: Plays, scripts, screenplays, and other theatrical works are protected.
  10. Web Content: Websites, blog posts, online articles, and digital media fall under copyright protection.
  11. Other Original Works: Copyright law can also protect other forms of creative expression, such as graphic designs, advertisements, compilations, and databases.

Related Article: Facts About Copyright Infringement

What Works are Protected by Copyright? – Compilations and Derivative Works

In addition to the individual works mentioned earlier, copyright law also protects compilations and derivative works.


It refers to a collection of preexisting materials or data that is organised, selected, or arranged in a unique way.

For example, an anthology of poems, a database of customer information, or a collection of scientific research papers can be considered compilations.

Copyright protection for a compilation extends to the selection, arrangement, and coordination of the individual elements within it.

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Derivative Works

Derivative works, on the other hand, are new works that are based on or adapted from existing copyrighted material.

This can include translations, adaptations, revisions, or transformations of original works.

For instance, a film adaptation of a novel, a remix of a song, or a sequel to a book are considered derivative works.

The creator of a derivative work needs permission from the copyright owner of the original work to create and distribute their derivative work.

Legal protection for compilations and derivative works ensures that the creativity and effort put into organising, adapting, or transforming existing material is recognised and respected.

It allows creators to build upon existing works, encouraging innovation and the development of new artistic expressions.

Related Article: Is Remixing a Song Copyright Infringement?

What Works Are Not Protected by Copyright?

While copyright law protects a wide range of creative works, certain types of works are not eligible for copyright protection. These include:

  1. Ideas and Concepts: Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, methods, or theories. It only protects the expression of those ideas in a tangible form.
  2. Facts and Information: Copyright does not protect facts, data, or information. However, a particular selection or arrangement of facts or information may be protected if it exhibits sufficient creativity.
  3. Government Works: Works created by the U.S. federal government are generally not subject to copyright protection. However, there may be certain exceptions and specific works that are protected.
  4. Works in the Public Domain: Works that are no longer protected by copyright, either because the term of protection has expired or they were never eligible for copyright, are considered part of the public domain.
  5. Titles, Names, and Short Phrases: Copyright does not protect titles, names, slogans, or short phrases. These may be subject to trademark law or other forms of intellectual property protection.
  6. Functional Works: Copyright does not protect functional aspects of works. For example, if a design element or object primarily serves a utilitarian purpose, it may be eligible for other forms of intellectual property protection, such as patents or industrial design rights.

It’s important to understand these limitations to the protection of copyright and to consult relevant laws and regulations to determine the specific scope of protection for different types of works.

Criteria of Copyright Protection

A work must meet certain criteria for copyright eligibility:

  1. Originality: The work must be original, meaning it has been independently created and displays a minimal level of creativity. It does not need to be completely unique but should possess original elements.
  2. Fixation: The work must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression, such as written on paper, recorded on audio or video, or saved in a digital format. Ideas or concepts alone cannot be copyrighted; they must be expressed in a tangible form or physical form.
  3. Creativity and Human Authorship: Copyright protection generally applies to works created by human authors. Works generated by machines or natural processes usually do not qualify, although there are exceptions for certain computer-generated works.

Copyright Limitations and Alternative Forms of Intellectual Property Protection

Copyright is an important legal framework that grants exclusive rights to creators and encourages innovation and creativity.

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However, it also has certain limitations and alternative forms of intellectual property protection that complement and supplement intellectual property law.

  1. Fair Use: Fair use is a copyright limitation that allows limited use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner. It allows for purposes such as criticism, commentary, teaching, research, and news reporting. Fair use enables the balance between protecting original works and promoting freedom of expression.
  2. Public Domain: Works in the public domain are not protected legally and can be freely used, reproduced, and distributed. These include expired copyrights, works created by the government, or works explicitly dedicated to the public domain. Public domain materials contribute to the availability of knowledge and cultural heritage.
  3. Trademarks: Trademarks protect logos, brand names, and symbols that distinguish goods or services in the marketplace. They provide exclusive rights and prevent others from using similar marks that may cause confusion among consumers. Trademarks help businesses build brand recognition and establish a reputation.
  4. Patents: Patents protect inventions, processes, and technological advancements. They grant exclusive rights to the inventor, preventing others from making, using, or selling the patented invention without permission. Patents promote innovation by rewarding inventors with a limited monopoly over their creations.
  5. Trade Secrets: Trade secrets protect valuable and confidential business information, such as formulas, recipes, manufacturing processes, and customer lists. Unlike other forms of intellectual property, trade secrets rely on keeping information secret rather than registration or disclosure. Trade secrets provide a competitive advantage to businesses that can safeguard their proprietary information.

It’s important to understand these copyright limitations and alternative forms of intellectual property protection to navigate the creative landscape effectively.

Each offers unique benefits and considerations, and consulting with legal professionals specialising in intellectual property can help creators make informed decisions about protecting their works.

What Rights Does Copyright Provide?

Copyright provides several rights to creators to protect their original works. These rights include:

  1. Reproduction Right: The right to make copies or reproductions of the work. For example, a musician has the exclusive right to reproduce copies of their song in the form of CDs or digital downloads.
  2. Distribution Right: The right to distribute copies of the work to the public. This includes selling, renting, or lending the work. For instance, a filmmaker has the exclusive right to distribute their motion picture through theaters, DVD sales, or streaming platforms.
  3. Public Performance Right: The right to publicly perform the work, such as in theaters, concerts, or on television. This encompasses various artistic forms of expression, including live performances of plays or showing a motion picture to an audience.
  4. Derivative Work Right: The right to create adaptations or derivative works based on the original work. For example, a book author has the exclusive right to create a motion picture adaptation of their novel.
  5. Display Right: The right to display the work publicly, such as in galleries, exhibitions, or websites. This applies to visual arts, photographs, sculptures, and other artistic works.
  6. Moral Rights: These rights protect the integrity and attribution of the work and are independent of economic rights. They include the right to be recognised as the author and the right to prevent modifications that could harm the creator’s reputation.
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These rights ensure that creators have control over their works, receive recognition for their contributions, and have the opportunity to profit from their creations.

Understanding and respecting these rights is crucial for the fair and legal use of copyrighted material.


Copyright law serves as a crucial safeguard for intellectual property, providing creators with the necessary protection and incentives to continue their creative endeavors.

It ensures that creators have exclusive rights to their works, preventing unauthorised use, reproduction, and distribution.

The duration of copyright protection varies from country to country, but it generally lasts for a specific copyright term.

Copyright law protects various forms of creative expression, including artistic craftsmanship and works made available to the public through sale or distribution.

In India, the copyright application process allows creators to formally establish their legal rights and seek legal remedies in case of copyright infringements.

Copyright ownership can be assigned to others through agreements or contracts, ensuring fair compensation and control over the copyrighted work.

It is important to include a copyright notice to assert ownership and deter potential infringers. 


What is copyrightability?

Copyrightability refers to the eligibility of creative work to receive copyright protection. While copyright statute varies across jurisdictions, there are general principles that determine the copyrightability of creative works.

Which works are protected by copyright?

Creative works that are typically eligible for copyright protection include:

a. Literary works (books, poems, articles)
b. Artistic works (paintings, sculptures, photographs)
c. Musical compositions and sound recordings
d. Dramatic works (plays, screenplays)
e. Architectural designs
f. Choreographic works
g. Software code

How to protect an idea?

To protect your idea, it’s important to understand that copyright does not specifically safeguard ideas, concepts, systems, or methods.

While you can express your ideas through written or artistic works and claim to copyright over those specific expressions, the underlying idea itself is not protected.

For instance, if you write a book describing a unique concept for a time-travel device, the copyright would protect the specific words and illustrations in your book, but it would not prevent others from using the idea of a time-travel device in their own works.

What is an example of a copyright symbol?

The copyright symbol, a “C” enclosed in a circle, represents protection under copyright law. It is followed by the year of creation and the author’s name.

For example, if an author named XYZ published a book in 2023, he could add the copyright symbol © 2023 XYZ to indicate that his work is protected by copyright law.

What are not protected by copyright

Ideas, concepts, facts, titles, slogans, phrases, etc are not protected by copyright.