Copyright is a concept firmly rooted in the field of artistic expression.

Ensuring the protection of the rights of creators and artists globally is of utmost importance.

It is a legal protection granted to original works, ensuring that their creators have exclusive rights over their creations.

This article centers around the nature and scope of copyright, exploring its fundamental principles and the extent of its coverage.

From literature to music, art to software, copyright grants creators the power to control and profit from their intellectual endeavors.

Nature of Copyright

Copyright is a form of intangible property that exists in the realm of ideas and creations.

The principle behind it is that the individual who conceived or produced a piece is its rightful owner.

This copyright ownership justifies the property rights associated with the work.

The owner of a copyrighted work has two options for dealing with their property: they can either sell their rights outright (known as assignment) or grant licenses for specific uses.

Copyright encompasses a set of exclusive rights.

These rights grant the owner the power to prevent others from copying their creation or engaging in other activities that, according to copyright law, are only allowed to be carried out by the owner. These exclusive rights have a limited duration.

In contrast to physical property, which can survive as long as the thing it is tied to, copyright is only valid for a limited time.

When this period has passed, the work becomes part of the “public domain.” In essence, it becomes a part of the general public’s communal property and is open to everyone’s unrestricted usage.

Therefore, it is in the public interest to award exclusive rights to copyrighted works for a brief period of time.

It strikes a balance between incentivising creators to produce new works by granting them temporary control over their creations and eventually making these works available for the benefit and unrestricted use by the wider public.

Exploring the Nature and Scope of Copyright

Copyright law serves as a fundamental principle that prevents the unauthorised use or exploitation of someone else’s creative work, recognising the labor, skill, and investment involved in its creation.

Its primary purpose is to protect authors and creators from the unlawful reproduction or exploitation of their works by others.

Entrepreneurs such as publishers or cinematograph film producers, who are assigned or licensed specific rights by the copyright owner, rely on this protection to recover their investments and earn profits.

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In ancient times, copyright became significant with the invention of the printing press, enabling larger-scale reproduction of books.

Copyright is a statutory creation, meaning that only those rights provided by the copyright act can be claimed by an individual.

However, the scope of copyright extends beyond traditional forms of creative expression, as seen in the case of Akuate Internet Services Pvt Ltd vs. Star India Pvt Ltd (2013).

This landmark case introduced the “hot news” doctrine and shed light on the responsibility of filing lawsuits to prevent unauthorised publication or sharing of match information.

Copyright grants authors a negative right, safeguarding their original works from unauthorised reproduction or exploitation.

This right also extends to preventing others from exercising any other form of right attached to copyright without proper authorisation.

For example, in the case of a literary work, the scope of copyright also covers the creation of a dramatic or cinematographic adaptation based on the original material.

Unveiling Copyright: Protecting Expressions, Not Ideas

Copyright encompasses a bundle of rights associated with creative work.

It should be noted that copyright law does not provide protection for ideas alone.

Instead, it safeguards the material form in which ideas are expressed.

This means that adopting someone else’s ideas is not considered copyright infringement.

Furthermore, copyright law does not prevent others from achieving the same result through an independent process and enjoying their own copyright for that work.

The words that the author chooses to express their ideas are specific to them in the world of literary works.

Just as no two people would write identical responses to the same question, no two descriptions of the same idea or reality can be expressed in exactly the same words.

Each person’s choice and arrangement of words are as distinctive as their appearance.

Therefore, copyright protection is granted to the specific form in which an idea is translated.

To qualify for copyright protection, it is necessary for the author to have invested sufficient judgment, skill, labor, or capital into the work.

The wisdom, accuracy, or literary merit of the work itself is irrelevant, as stated in the case of Walter v. Lane.

Copyright: Balancing Rights and Limitations

The concept of copyright does not grant the owner a complete monopoly over the subject matter.

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Others are free to produce the same result, as long as their work is independent and original, as established in the case of Ravencroft v. Herbert.

It’s important to note that live events do not enjoy copyright protection.

Therefore, no license is required to transmit programs featuring sporting or news events. However, it is essential to consider the special rights granted to performers in such cases.

While copyright offers protection, it does have limitations.

Works that are grossly immoral, illegal, defamatory, seditious, irreligious, contrary to public policy, or intended to deceive the public are not eligible for copyright protection. This ensures a balance between the rights of creators and the broader interests of society.

An Overview of Copyright Protection

FeatureDescription
Nature of copyrightCopyright is a bundle of rights that are granted to the author or creator of an original work of authorship. These rights cover the ability to perform the work publicly, copy it, adapt it, and convey it to the public, among other things.
Exclusive rightsCopyright owners have the exclusive right to do or authorise certain acts in relation to their work. This means that no one else can do these acts without the copyright owner’s permission.
Original work of authorshipCopyright protection only applies to original works of authorship. This means that the work must be the author’s own creation and not copied from another source.
Fixed in a tangible mediumThe work must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This means that the work must be recorded in some way so that it can be reproduced or communicated.
Duration of copyrightCopyright protection lasts for a limited period of time. In the United States, copyright protection for most works lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

Conclusion

The exploration of the nature and scope of copyright reveals the intricate balance between intellectual property, the rights of authors, and the public welfare.

Copyright, as a form of protection granted by the creation of statute, empowers the copyright holder with a collection of rights over their artistic creations.

From literary works to cinematographic films, copyright safeguards various forms of expression and art forms, including the ever-evolving electronic form.

The term of copyright reflects the efforts and creative endeavors put forth by artists and creators, ensuring that their imaginative contributions to cultural life endure for significant amounts of time.

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While copyright violation remains a concern, it is crucial to acknowledge the rights and interests of both the concerned person and the copyright society.

By respecting the absolute rights of authors, we not only encourage further artistic production but also foster an environment that values and rewards the expression of the author’s imagination.

Copyright, at its core, serves as a cornerstone for the protection and preservation of creative effort, granting the copyright holder the exclusive rights necessary to share and distribute their works.

It is becoming more and more important to maintain and respect creators’ rights as we negotiate the always-changing landscape of artistic expression, acknowledging their enormous influence on our cultural fabric and the efforts they make to improve people’s aesthetic experiences.

FAQs

What are the various types of works that fall under the wide scope of copyright protection in India?

The scope of copyright protection in India is wide and covers a wide range of works, including:

a. Literary works, such as books, journals, poems, and scripts;
b. Dramatic works, such as plays, operas, and ballets;
c. Musical works, such as songs, instrumental pieces, and scores;
d. Artistic works, such as paintings, sculptures, and photographs;
e. Cinematographic films; and
f. Sound recordings.

What is the nature of copyright protection?

Copyright protection operates as an unregistered right, automatically granted to the owner upon the creation of a work.

To qualify for protection, the work must be both new and original, originating from the efforts of the creator rather than copied from existing resources.

It is worth mentioning that copyright laws do not cover methods, approaches to activities, or scientific concepts.

These aspects are not eligible for copyright protection, as copyright primarily focuses on safeguarding creative expressions and original works.

What are neighbouring rights?

Neighbouring rights, also known as related rights, are a set of rights that protect the interests of performers, producers of phonograms, and broadcasting organisations.

India’s copyright law provides legal safeguards for neighbouring rights, which encompass broadcast reproduction rights and performers’ rights.

How do economic rights differ from moral rights?

Economic rights refer to the exclusive rights granted to copyright holders to exploit their works commercially.

These rights allow copyright holders to authorise or prohibit activities such as reproduction, distribution, adaptation, and public performance, enabling them to derive financial benefits from their legal content.

On the other hand, moral rights are non-economic in nature and focus on the non-material aspects of the work.

They protect the author’s right to be attributed as the creator, preserve the integrity of the work, and prevent derogatory treatment that may harm their reputation.

Can copyright protection be applied to any type of content?

Copyright protection applies to various forms of creative expression, including literary works, artistic works, musical compositions, films, software, and more.

It covers the original creations, as long as they meet the criteria of being fixed in a tangible form and displaying a sufficient level of creativity.