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Duration of Copyright in India

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Manish Jindal

December 6, 2023

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Duration of Copyright in India

Do you know what is the duration of copyright in India?

The world of content creation and innovation is continually evolving, and behind this dynamic canvas lies the intricate framework of copyright laws, ensuring creators’ rights are safeguarded.

While the essence of copyright remains consistent globally – to protect the original expression of ideas – the duration for which this protection extends varies from one country to another.

India, with its rich tapestry of arts, literature, music, and films, has its own set of rules determining the longevity of these rights.

So, just how long does copyright protection last in India? What factors influence this duration in India?

Let’s embark on a journey to understand the intricate details of copyright duration in the world’s largest democracy and delve deep into the complexities and nuances unique to the Indian subcontinent.

In Most Countries How Long Does Copyright Last For?

Copyright protection ensures that creators of original works, from books and music to films and software, have exclusive rights to their creations for a certain period.

However, the duration of copyright varies based on the type of work and the country’s specific laws. Below is a general overview of the duration of copyright protection in most countries:

  1. Literary, Dramatic, Musical, and Artistic Works:
    • The standard duration in many countries, including those adhering to the Berne Convention (an international agreement governing copyright), is the life of the author plus 50 years.
    • This means that the copyright on a work lasts for the author’s entire life and then continues for 50 years after their death.
    • However, some countries, like the United States and those in the European Union, have extended this duration to the life of the author plus 70 years.
  2. Anonymous and Pseudonymous Works:
    • If the author’s identity is unknown or if a pseudonym is used, the duration is typically either 50 or 70 years from the date of publication or creation, depending on the country.
  3. Cinematographic and Audiovisual Works:
    • The copyright duration varies more widely for these works.
    • In many countries, the protection lasts for 50 years from the date of publication or, if unpublished, from the date of creation.
    • However, some jurisdictions extend this to 70 years.
  4. Photographic Works:
    • The duration for photographs can vary significantly.
    • In many countries, photographs are protected for 50 years from the year of creation or publication, but this can be longer in certain jurisdictions.
  5. Sound Recordings:
    • Typically, sound recordings are protected for 50 years from the year of creation or publication.
    • However, some countries, like the United States, extend this duration to 70 years.
  6. Broadcasts:
    • Broadcasts are often protected for 50 years from the date of their first broadcast.
  7. Software:
    • Software is generally treated as a literary work. Hence, in many countries, its copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 50 or 70 years.

It’s crucial to note that while the Berne Convention sets minimum standards, countries are free to provide longer durations of protection.

Additionally, other factors might influence copyright duration, such as wartime extensions or specific historical legislation.

In India a Copyright is Valid for How Many Years? – Duration of Copyright in India

In India, the duration of copyright in India is dictated by the Copyright Act, 1957, and it varies based on the type of work:

  1. Literary, Dramatic, Musical, and Artistic Works: Copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 60 years.
  2. If there’s joint authorship, the duration is 60 years from the death of the last surviving author.
  3. Photographic Works: The duration of copyright in India is 60 years from the year of publication.
  4. Sound Recordings: The duration of copyright in India is 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year after the year in which the recording was published.
  5. Government Works: For works where the government is the copyright owner, the duration is 60 years from the beginning of the year following the year in which the work is first published.
  6. Broadcasts: Rights for broadcasting organisations last 25 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year when the broadcast was first made.
  7. Works of International Organisations: Duration of copyright in India for works of certain international organisations (e.g., the UN) is 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year of publication.

When Does Copyright Expire?

The expiration of copyright varies based on several factors, including the type of work, the jurisdiction or country, and specific circumstances related to the authorship.

Here’s a general overview:

  1. Type of Work: The nature of the work can dictate how long the copyright lasts.
  2. For example, literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works might have a different duration of copyright in India than photographic works or broadcasts.
  3. Life Plus System: Many countries follow a “life plus” system for literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.
  4. This means the copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author and then continues for a specified number of years after their death.
  5. The Berne Convention, an international copyright treaty, establishes a minimum of the author’s life plus 50 years, but many countries, including the U.S. and members of the European Union, have extended this to the author’s life plus 70 years.
  6. Specific Jurisdictions: Copyright laws and their durations can vary considerably from one country to another.
  7. For instance, while the U.S. generally offers life plus 70 years, India offers life plus 60 years for certain types of works.
  8. Multiple Authors: For works with more than one author, the copyright might last until the death of the last surviving author plus the designated number of years.
  9. Anonymous, Pseudonymous, and Corporate Works: If the author is unknown or if the work is published under a pseudonym, the copyright might last for a specified number of years from publication or creation.
  10. For works authored by corporations, the duration of copyright India might be based on the date of publication or creation.
  11. Government Works: Some countries have specific rules for works created by government entities.
  12. In the U.S., for example, most works created by the federal government are in the public domain and are not copyrighted.
  13. Renewals and Extensions: Historically, some copyright systems required renewal to maintain copyright protection.
  14. While this practice has diminished, certain older works in countries with such systems might be affected by renewal rules.
  15. Additionally, some countries have periodically extended the duration of copyright in India, affecting which works enter the public domain.

What is 70 Year Copyright Rule?

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The “70 Year Copyright Rule” refers to a common duration of copyright protection provided to certain types of works in many countries.

Specifically, it means that copyright protection for a work lasts for the lifetime of the author plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death.

Here’s a deeper dive into this rule:

Origin

The Berne Convention, an international agreement governing copyright, established a minimum term of protection of the author’s life plus 50 years.

However, many countries, wanting to provide longer protection, extended this period.

The European Union, for instance, harmonised copyright terms to the author’s life plus 70 years, largely to ensure consistent protection across its member states.

United States

In the U.S., the Copyright Term Extension Act (often referred to as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act or the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act”) extended copyright terms in 1998.

As a result, works created and fixed in a tangible medium of expression on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years.

For works with multiple authors, the copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the last surviving author.

Corporate and Anonymous Works

For works created for hire, anonymous works, or pseudonymous works, the copyright duration is 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter, in the U.S.

Why 70 Years?

The extension from the initial 50-year posthumous period to 70 years was influenced by various factors.

Some arguments for the extension included aligning with international standards, ensuring that the author’s heirs benefit from the work for a longer time, and considering the longer average lifespan of individuals in modern times.

Public Domain

Once the 70-year period (after the author’s death) expires, the work enters the public domain.

This means it can be used, reproduced, and shared by anyone without obtaining permission or paying royalties.

Variations

While many countries adhere to the 70-year rule, others might have different durations, like the 60-year term in India or the 50-year term in several countries that follow the basic Berne Convention standard.

Is there a Literature Copyright Expiration?

Yes, literature copyright expiration refers to the point at which literary works are no longer protected by copyright laws and subsequently enter the public domain.

Once a literary work is in the public domain, it can be freely used, shared, adapted, and reproduced by anyone without the need for permission or payment of royalties.

The duration of copyright protection for literary works varies based on several factors:

Author’s Lifespan: In many countries, the standard duration for copyright protection of literary works is based on the author’s life plus a specified number of years. For instance:

  • Under the Berne Convention (an international copyright treaty), the minimum required protection is the author’s life plus 50 years.
  • Many countries, such as those in the European Union and the United States, extend this protection to the author’s life plus 70 years.

Publication Date: For anonymous, pseudonymous, or certain corporate works where the individual author’s identity isn’t known, copyright might last a certain number of years from the work’s publication or creation.

Country-Specific Rules: Each country has its own copyright laws, which can lead to variations in duration.

For example, while the U.S. and the European Union might protect literary works for the life of the author plus 70 years, India offers protection for the life of the author plus 60 years.

Renewals and Extensions: In some jurisdictions, historically, copyright protection required renewals.

Although this practice is largely obsolete now due to changes in international and national copyright laws, it can affect the status of older works.

Transitional Provisions: Sometimes, when copyright laws are updated or amended, there are transitional provisions that can affect the copyright status of certain works.

Public Domain: It’s essential to note that even if a work’s copyright has expired and it has entered the public domain in one country, it might still be under copyright in another due to differences in copyright durations and laws.

When Do Books Go Out of Copyright?

Books, like other literary works, go out of copyright (i.e., enter the public domain) when their copyright protection expires.

The duration of copyright in India and the point at which books go out of copyright depend on several factors:

  1. Author’s Lifespan: In many jurisdictions, copyright protection for books lasts for the life of the author plus a specified number of years:
    • The Berne Convention, an international copyright treaty, mandates a minimum protection of the author’s life plus 50 years.
    • Several countries, including those in the European Union and the United States, have extended this duration to the author’s life plus 70 years.
  2. Multiple Authors: For books with joint authorship, the copyright may last until the death of the last surviving author plus the designated number of years (e.g., 70 years in many jurisdictions).
  3. Anonymous or Pseudonymous Works: If a book is published anonymously or under a pseudonym and the author’s identity remains unknown, the copyright might last for a set number of years from its publication or creation. The exact duration varies by jurisdiction.
  4. Publication Date: For some older works or in specific jurisdictions, the copyright term might be based solely on the number of years since publication, regardless of the author’s lifespan.
  5. Country-Specific Rules: Different countries have different copyright durations. For instance, while the U.S. and the European Union might generally adhere to the life of the author plus 70 years, India provides protection for the life of the author plus 60 years.
  6. Renewal Systems: Historically, some countries had copyright systems that required periodic renewal of the copyright. If the copyright wasn’t renewed, the book could enter the public domain earlier than it might under current laws. This system was prevalent in the U.S. before changes in the latter part of the 20th century.
  7. Government or Corporate Authorship: Some jurisdictions have different rules for works authored by government entities or corporations. These works might have a fixed duration based on the publication or creation date rather than the author’s lifespan.
  8. Public Domain Entry: Once a book’s copyright expires, it enters the public domain and can be freely reproduced, distributed, adapted, and used by anyone without obtaining permission or paying royalties.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the duration of copyright in India is both intricate and tailored to the diverse range of works it covers, from literary and artistic creations to films and sound recordings.

Rooted in the Copyright Act of 1957, India’s framework offers protections that generally extend for 60 years, a duration of copyright in India that is slightly longer than the standard set by the Berne Convention.

While understanding these durations is vital for creators, publishers, and consumers within the Indian landscape, it also underscores the broader global narrative of balancing individual creators’ rights with the societal benefits of shared culture and knowledge.

As with all areas of law, especially in a digital age where content dissemination is swift and global, staying updated and informed about copyright duration is crucial for all stakeholders in the creative ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does duration of copyright in India last for literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works?

In India, copyright protection for literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 60 years.

If there is joint authorship, it is 60 years from the death of the last surviving author.

How long is the copyright duration for works where the government is the copyright owner?

For works where the government is the copyright owner, copyright protection lasts for 60 years from the beginning of the year following the year in which the work is first published.

Are the duration of copyright in India in line with international standards?

While the Berne Convention, an international copyright treaty, establishes a minimum protection of the author’s life plus 50 years, India’s duration of 60 years exceeds this standard.

However, it’s worth noting that some countries, like members of the European Union and the United States, have durations of the author’s life plus 70 years.

What happens when the copyright duration expires?

Once the copyright duration expires, the work enters the public domain. This means that it can be freely used, adapted, and shared by anyone without the need for permission or payment of royalties.

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