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Salient Features of Copyright Act 1957

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Manish Jindal

January 12, 2024

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Salient Features of Copyright Act 1957

Do you know what are all the salient features of copyright Act 1957?

The Copyright Act of 1957 is the primary legislation in India that governs copyright protection, and its rules constitute the core framework for  law in the country.

It has undergone multiple amendments over the years, each aimed at enhancing its relevance in a rapidly evolving creative and technological landscape.

It not only defines the rights of authors and creators but also outlines provisions for licensing, assignment, infringement, and remedies.

Understanding the salient features of the Copyright Act of 1957 is key to ensuring the protection and appropriate use of creative works in India.

What are the Salient Features of Copyright Act 1957 in India

The Copyright Act of 1957, amended multiple times with the most recent amendment in 2012, governs  law in India. Here are some of the main features:

Types of Works Protected

The Act protects original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, cinematograph films, and sound recordings.

This extends to cover books, music, paintings, photographs, movies, and software.

Automatic Protection

Copyright protection is automatic and begins as soon as the work is created and fixed in a tangible medium.

No registration or publication is required, though registration can serve as “prima facie” evidence in a court if a dispute arises.


Term of Protection

The Act provides protection for the lifetime of the author plus sixty years following their death.

For cinematograph films, photographs, posthumous works, anonymous works, and pseudonymous works, the term of copyright is sixty years from the year following the work’s publication.

Transfer of Rights

The Act provides provisions for the assignment and licensing of copyright.

The rights can be transferred by way of an assignment, license, or testamentary disposition.

Infringement and Penalties

The Act outlines what constitutes  infringement and lays down penalties and remedies for the same, which can include injunctions, damages, and account of profits.

Fair Dealing

The Act allows for fair dealing of the copyrighted work for private use, criticism, review, research, and reporting of current events.

Special Provisions for Software

The Act provides special provisions for the protection of software, which can be rented or licensed.

Rights of Broadcasting Organisations and Performers

The 2012 amendments also included provisions to protect the rights of broadcasting organisations and performers.

How Copyright Law Protects Content in India?

In India,  law, as laid down in the Copyright Act of 1957, provides comprehensive protection for original content. Here’s how it works:

Automatic Protection

As soon as the content is created and expressed in a tangible medium, it’s automatically protected under copyright law.

There’s no need to register or publish the work to obtain protection, although registration can serve as prima facie evidence in court in case of disputes.

Transfer and Licensing

The owner has the right to sell or license their rights to others.

This is often done through contracts, which can specify the terms and conditions, scope, and duration of the use of copyrighted content.

Protection Duration

Copyright protection generally lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 60 years.

For anonymous works, posthumous works, cinematograph films, photographs, government works, and corporate authorship, copyright lasts for 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the work was first published.

Infringement Consequences

If someone uses copyrighted content without the necessary permissions or beyond the scope of a license, the owner can take legal action against them.

The court may grant remedies such as injunctions, damages, and in some cases, criminal penalties.

Fair Dealing

The law allows certain uses of copyrighted content without the need for permission.

These uses include research, private study, criticism or review, and reporting current events, subject to certain conditions.

Moral Rights

Even after selling their copyright, the creators retain moral rights over their work.

This means they have the right to claim authorship and to object to any distortion, mutilation, or modification of their work that may harm their honor or reputation.

Civil and Criminal Remedies for Violation in India

In India, the Copyright Act of 1957 provides both civil and criminal remedies for infringement.

Civil Remedies

Injunctions: One of the most common civil remedies, an injunction, can prevent the infringer from further using, producing, or distributing the copyrighted work.

Damages and Account of Profits: The court may order the infringer to pay damages for losses suffered by the  owner as a result of the infringement.

Delivery of Infringing Copies: The court may order the infringer to deliver all infringing copies to the owner.

Criminal Remedies

Imprisonment: The law stipulates imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years.

Fine: The infringer may also be liable to a fine ranging from INR 50,000 to INR 200,000.

Search and Seizure: The police have the power to seize without a warrant, all copies of the work suspected to be infringing, as well as the plates used for making infringing copies.

In addition to these, the Act also provides for “Anton Piller” orders, where the court, in certain circumstances, may grant a surprise order to the infringer to grant access to their premises and to preserve evidence relevant to the claim of infringement.

A consultation with a legal professional is recommended to understand the possible remedies for violation in specific situations.

What is the Difference Between Intellectual Property Infringement and Infringement of Copyright?

Intellectual Property (IP) infringement and copyright infringement are both offenses that involve the unauthorized use of another’s protected work.

However, they apply to different types of intellectual property. Here’s how they differ:

Intellectual Property Infringement

Intellectual property is a broad category that includes several types of rights:

Copyrights: Protect original works of authorship, such as books, music, movies, and software.

Trademarks: Protect brand names, logos, slogans, and other identifiers of source or origin.

Patents: Protect inventions, including processes, machines, and chemical compositions.

Trade Secrets: Protect business secrets that give a company a competitive edge, such as recipes, manufacturing methods, and marketing strategies.

Industrial Design Rights: Protect the unique appearance or design of manufactured objects.

Geographical Indications: Protect goods or products associated with a specific geographical origin known for certain qualities or reputation.

Infringement of intellectual property means the unauthorised use of any of these types of protected rights.

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Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is a type of intellectual property infringement that specifically involves copyright-protected works.

Both offenses can result in legal action, penalties, and damage recovery, but the specific laws, processes, and potential defenses involved can vary depending on the type of intellectual property right at issue.

As always, professional legal advice should be sought in matters involving potential infringement.

Advantages of Copyright Protection for Creators

Copyright protection provides creators with a range of benefits that can ensure their intellectual creations are safeguarded and they are remunerated for their work.

Here are some of the main advantages:

Exclusive Rights: Copyright provides creators with the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and create derivative works from their original work.

This allows creators to control how their work is used and shared.

Financial Benefit: By having exclusive rights, creators can monetize their work. They can sell or license their work to others and earn royalties from its use.

Protection Against Infringement: Copyright gives creators legal recourse if their work is used without permission. They can sue for damages or seek injunctions to prevent further unauthorised use.

Moral Rights: Even if creators sell their copyrights, they retain their moral rights, which means they can claim authorship of the work and object to any modifications or uses of the work that may harm their reputation.

Promotion of Creativity: Copyright incentivizes creativity by ensuring creators can benefit from their work.

This encourages more production and dissemination of creative works, enriching society as a whole.

International Protection: Thanks to international treaties like the Berne Convention, a  registered in one country can be recognised in others.

This extends protection to creators on a global scale.

Remember, while  protection is automatic upon creation of a work, it can be beneficial to register your copyright, especially if you anticipate your work will be commercially valuable or potentially subject to infringement.

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

Main Features of Copyright Act in 1957

The Copyright Act of 1957 is the principal law governing copyright in India.

It has been amended six times, most recently in 2012, to accommodate changes in technology and align with international regulations. Here are some of the main features of the Act:

Scope of Protection

The Act protects original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. This includes books, music, paintings, photographs, films, software, and more.

Automatic Protection

Copyright protection arises automatically upon creation of a work, without the need for registration.

However, registration can provide prima facie evidence of copyright in the event of a dispute.

Rights of Holders

The Act grants exclusive rights to the holder, including the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and make adaptations of the work.

Term of Copyright

For most works, copyright protection lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 60 years.

For anonymous works, posthumous works, cinematograph films, photographs, and sound recordings, copyright lasts for 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the work was first published.

Transfer of Copyright

The Act provides for the assignment and licensing of copyright, allowing owners to monetize their work through various means.

Infringement and Remedies

The Act clearly defines what constitutes infringement and prescribes both civil and criminal remedies, including injunctions, damages, fines, and imprisonment.

Fair Dealing

The Act allows for fair dealing of copyrighted works for specific purposes such as research, criticism, review, and reporting of current events without the need for permission from the owner.

Special Provisions for Software

The Act includes specific provisions relating to computer software, including the right to sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire any copy of the software regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions.

Rights of Broadcasting Organisations and Performers

The 2012 amendment introduced additional rights for broadcasting organisations and performers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Copyright Act of 1957 has provided a comprehensive legal framework for protection in India.

With the primary objective of safeguarding the interests of creators and promoting creativity and innovation, the Act addresses various facets such as the types of works protected, the rights granted to  owners, the transfer and licensing of rights, as well as remedies for infringement.

Updated regularly to reflect changing technological and international norms, the Act seeks to strike a balance between protecting the rights of creators and serving the public interest.

It is a key piece of legislation for any artist, author, publisher, software developer, or other creative professional working in India.

As always, legal advice should be sought to navigate specific  issues under the Act.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What types of works are protected under the Copyright Act of 1957?

The Act of 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.
It also extends protection to cinematograph films and sound recordings.
This includes books, scripts, songs, paintings, photographs, films, and computer software.

2. Do I need to register my work to get protection under the Act?

No, copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of the work in a tangible form.

However, registering your copyright can provide prima facie evidence of your rights, which can be useful in the event of a legal dispute.

3. What rights do I have as a copyright owner under the Act?

As an owner, you have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and create derivative works from your original work.

You also have the right to sell or license these rights to others.

4. What constitutes infringement under the Act of 1957, and what remedies are available?

Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses a copyrighted work without the necessary permissions or beyond the scope of a license.

Remedies for infringement can include injunctions, damages, fines, and even imprisonment.

The specific remedy applied will depend on the facts of each case.
 

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