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THE COPYRIGHT ACT,1975

October 26, 2023by canonsphere0
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This blog is written by Sohini Chakraborty, a 3rd year law student from Amity University, Kolkata.

INTRODUCTION

In India, the protection of intellectual property rights, including copyright, is governed by the Copyright Act of 1957, which was passed into law. The Creators, Authors, and Artists Rights Act establishes the rights of artists, authors, and creators in regard to their unique literary, artistic, and musical works. This Act is crucial because it protects creators’ rights and encourages innovation and cultural enrichment while allowing them to enjoy the results of their labor.

On January 21, 1958, the Copyright Act of 1914 was replaced by the Copyright Act of 1957, which went into effect the next day. This new legislation was necessary to handle the post-independence era’s changing landscape of creative works and bring India’s copyright laws into compliance with international standards. The protection of creators’ rights and the encouragement of creative and literary endeavors are reflected in the Act.

EVOLUTION OF THE ACT

During the colonial era, the Indian Copyright Act of 1914, sometimes known as the first copyright law in India, was introduced. It gave musical, theatrical, and literary works copyright protection. The Act did not, however, include all types of creative expression and had a narrow scope.

India attained independence in 1947, and the earlier 1914 Act was replaced with the 1957 Copyright Act. This was an important turning point since it established the framework for contemporary copyright law in India. The Act broadened the spectrum of works covered by copyright protection to include works of art, music, theater, and literature. Additionally, the idea of copyright registration was developed.

India significantly revised its Copyright Act in the 1980s in response to the new problems that emerging technology had brought forth. Protection for databases and software was one of these modifications. Additionally, the Act established rules for certain works’ mandatory licensing.

To bring the Copyright Act into compliance with global copyright norms, more amendments were made to it in the 1990s. In addition to recognizing the rights of musicians, broadcasters, and sound recording producers, these modifications also extended the duration of copyright protection.

The Copyright Act underwent significant revisions in the 2010s to address concerns about digital technologies and the internet. These modifications included clauses on digital rights management (DRM), internet service providers’ (ISPs’) responsibility for copyright infringement, and the acknowledgment of writers’ moral rights.

 In response to its commitments under international agreements like the Berne Convention and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), India’s copyright laws have changed. These agreements have had an impact on India’s efforts to protect intellectual property rights and harmonize copyright regulations.

OBJECTIVE OF THE ACT

With a focus on nurturing innovation, defending the rights of creators, and advancing the spread of knowledge and culture, the Copyright Act of 1957 fulfills a number of significant goals. Providing legal protection to writers and creators of original works is the main goal of the Copyright Act. The exclusivity of the creators’ rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, modify, and make their works available to the public is ensured by this protection. The Act supports the creation of fresh, original works, whether they take the form of writing, music, painting, or other forms of expression, by protecting these rights.

The Act seeks to create a balance between the needs of the public and those of innovators. Even while creators are given exclusive rights to their works, the Act also acknowledges several restrictions and exceptions, such as those for fair use. These clauses ensure that access to information and culture is not unreasonably constrained by allowing the use of copyrighted content for activities like research, criticism, and news reporting. The Supreme Court of India emphasized the objective of copyright law in the significant case of R.G. Anand vs. M/s. Deluxe Films (1978) , which is to find a balance between defending the rights of authors and fostering public access to creative works. The Court emphasized that while fair use must be permitted for reasons like criticism and review, copyright protection is not absolute and must be restricted to foster creation. 

Agreements for licensing and distribution are made easier by copyright protection. To guarantee that their works are seen by as many people as possible, authors and copyright holders can enter into agreements with publishers, distributors, and other parties. This promotes the sharing of artistic works and advances cultural diversity.

PROVISIONS OF THE ACT

Key terminology used throughout the Act are defined under Section 2 of the Copyright Act of 1957. In order to interpret the Act and comprehend its scope and applicability, it is crucial to have these definitions.

The Copyright provided to authors of original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works is described in Section 2(f) of the Copyright Act as the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, convey to the public, and modify one’s own works. The use and distribution of a creator’s creative expressions are controlled by copyright protection.

Section 13 of the Copyright Act of 1957 is the section that is most important since it deals with copyright protection. For several categories of creative works, it specifies the particular conditions of copyright protection.

The copyright in original artistic works, literary, dramatic and musical work generally lasts throughout the author’s lifetime as well as an extra 60 years starting the year after the author’s passing, according to Section 13(1). This means that the author’s legal heirs or copyright assignees have the only right to adapt, reproduce, distribute, perform the work throughout their lifetime and for 60 years following their passing.

RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS

The rights granted to owners of copyrights are outlined in Section 14 of the Copyright Act of 1957. These exclusive rights give the owner of the copyright the ability to regulate how their works are used and distributed. 

The work may only be reproduced by the copyright holder in any material form, including printing, recording, and storage on any medium. The sole right to create adaptations or derivative works based on the original work belongs to the copyright owner. Translations, modifications, abridgments, and other changes are included in this.

COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP

Section 17 of the Copyrights Act of 1957 states that the person who first created the work is the rightful owner of the copyright. The only situation where this rule does not apply is when an employee produces content while carrying out tasks related to their employment, in which case the employer will become the owner of the copyright.

Star India Pvt. Ltd. vs. Leo Burnett (2013): This lawsuit dealt with issues with copyright violations in advertising. In accordance with the Act’s goal of defending the rights of creators, the Court’s ruling underscored the significance of copyright protection in innovative advertising content.

MODE OF THE ASSIGNMENT AGREEMENT

In order to guarantee the accuracy and legitimacy of copyright assignments, Section 19 is essential. It protects the rights of authors by requiring formal agreements, allowing for partial assignments to accommodate certain requirements, and stipulating assignments for territorial and future works. A public record of copyright transactions is ensured by the requirement to provide a copy of the assignment to the Registrar of Copyrights.

If the granted rights are not used after five years, the copyright owner has the right to revoke the assignment under Section 19(6). This clause aims to safeguard the rights of authors and other creators and prohibit assignees who don’t make use of their rights from holding onto their rights indefinitely.

COPYRIGHT DURATION 

Section 22 of the Act establishes the time frame for copyright protection, which is typically the author’s lifetime plus 60 years. The Act lays out detailed guidelines for establishing the duration in the case of anonymous works, pseudonymous works, and works of joint authorship.

REGISTRATION OF COPYRIGHT

According to Section 45, copyright registration is optional in India. It follows that authors do not need to register their works in order to enjoy copyright protection because copyright protection is immediately granted upon the creation of a work. But there are some advantages to voluntary registration.

 The length of copyright protection is unaffected by registration, it is vital to remember this. According to Section 13, the duration of copyright protection is typically the author’s lifetime plus 60 years.

CIVIL REMEDIES

Section 55 of the Copyright Act, 1957, deals with civil remedies available to copyright owners in case of infringement of their rights. In order to stop the infringement of their copyright, copyright owners can ask a court for an injunction. A court ruling known as an injunction forbids the infringer from carrying out the copyrighted work’s unauthorized use or replication in the future. This remedy is crucial for putting an end to continuous copyright breaches.

Copyright holders have the option of suing the infringer for compensation or an accounting of profits. Damages are money given to the owner of the copyright to make up for damages brought on by copyright infringement. The copyright holder may be given these profits if the violating party submits an account of the gains they received as a result of the violating behavior.

MORAL RIGHTS

Two categories of moral rights are recognized by Section 57 of the Copyright Act of 1957, and they are:

Right to paternity – the ability to claim authorship of a work and the ability to prevent others from doing the same; and the right to paternity, which includes the ability to assert authorship of a work and prevent others from doing the same;

Right to integrity includes the ability to prevent and/or sue for damages for any alteration, mutilation, or other act related to the specified work that would be detrimental to the claimant’s honor or reputation.

In Sanjeev Pillai v. Vennu Kunnapalli (2019) case Section 57(1) gives the author the right to enjoin third parties, and its second subsection gives the author the right to sue those third parties for damages if their actions result in the deformation, destruction, or other alteration of his work or in any other action related to it that would be harmful to his dignity or reputation. This gave the appellant an unbeatable advantage in the situation and guaranteed that his assignment of the work would protect his legal claim to authorship.

CRIMINAL REMEDIES

Criminal sanctions are available for copyright infringement under Section 63 of the Copyright Act.  According to Section 63 of the Act, anyone found guilty of willfully violating or encouraging the breach of a work’s copyright would receive a minimum sentence of six months in jail and a minimum fine of 50,000 rupees. Due to the widespread copyright infringement, a person who violates Section 63A a second time suffers an extra punishment of imprisonment for a term not less than one year and a fine that cannot be less than one lakh rupees.  According to Section 63B, if someone willfully uses an illegal copy of computer software on a computer, they could receive a minimum seven-day jail sentence as well as a fine of at least 50,000 rupees.

NEED AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ACT

In order to secure the artists’ intellectual property rights and to promote innovation, creativity, and the spread of information and culture, it is essential to uphold the Copyright Act of 1957. The Copyright Act’s main goal is to defend the legal rights of all types of creators, including writers, musicians, artists, and other types of creative people. It gives individuals the only right to publish, perform, adapt, and reproduce their works, which encourages them to generate and disseminate their works.

It is economically important to protect intellectual property. Through royalties, sales, and licensing, artists can make money off of their creations. As the creative industries expand, which is important for the economy, this helps.

The public’s desire to access and use creative works and the rights of authors are balanced by copyright law. It outlines limitations and exceptions, like as fair use or fair dealing, which permit the use of copyrighted content for activities like criticism, research, and education. Software and other creative works produced in the technology industry are protected by copyright. Incentives for the development of new technologies are provided while the rights of software developers are protected, which encourages innovation.

A framework for enforcing rights and pursuing remedies in cases of infringement is provided by the Copyright Act for owners of copyright. The ability to protect one’s creations is thus guaranteed for creators. The development of the creative industries and the spread of knowledge and culture are facilitated by it because it offers legal protection, financial incentives, and a framework for the ethical use of copyrighted material.

In Tips Industries Ltd. v. Wynk Ltd. and Anr. (2019) after hearing both sides’ arguments, the Bombay High Court rendered a judgment and found that Wynk had violated the copyright on two separate occasions: first, by making the copyrighted work accessible under Section 14(1)(e)(ii), which permitted users to download and subscribe to the plaintiff’s work offline; and second, by making the plaintiff’s works accessible to users via their streaming platform. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding that they were qualified for an interim injunction since they had made a compelling argument and would suffer significant financial loss.

CRITICISM AND LIMITATION OF THE ACT

The extensive period of copyright protection has come under fire, especially when it comes to corporate-owned works. The protection of a copyright typically lasts for the author’s lifetime plus an extra 60 years. The extended protection, according to critics, can impede creativity and restrict access to works that would otherwise be in the public domain. Some contend that copyright protection has expanded too much, now encompassing not only conventional creative works but also databases, software, and other forms of content. The free flow of information and ideas may be constrained by this increase of copyright protection.

Critics contend that overzealous copyright enforcement might stifle innovation and creativity. Even when such uses might be viewed as fair or transformative, people and organizations may be discouraged from expanding upon or remixing prior works due to a fear of copyright infringement lawsuits. It has been debatable whether or not to deploy DRM systems to protect digital content. DRM can limit consumers’ freedom to use lawfully purchased content anyway they see appropriate, according to critics, which limits the meaning of “ownership” in the digital era.

Access to scholarly research and educational resources may be hampered by copyright limitations. In the digital age, where access to information is crucial for learning and creativity, critics claim that this can impede the free flow of knowledge and information. Globalization has resulted in significant regional variation in copyright rules, which complicates matters for both creators and consumers. International copyright laws need to be harmonized and simplified, claim critics. Online streaming, digital distribution, and user-generated content platforms, according to critics, are all subject to legal uncertainty since copyright regulations have not kept up with technical development.

CONCLUSION

Finally, it should be noted that the Copyright Act of 1957 is an essential legal framework that promotes the spread of knowledge and culture while also preserving the creators’ intellectual property rights. In order to stimulate creativity, innovation, and the preservation of cultural heritage, it must be able to delicately balance these two goals. This is where its necessity and relevance lie.

By giving creators exclusive rights to their works and encouraging the creation of fresh, diverse content, the Act is essential in defending the rights of creators. By providing financial incentives and guaranteeing that artists can profit from their works, it promotes the development of creative industries, which are crucial to a country’s economy. The Act is not without criticism, though. Discussions regarding the possible stifling of innovation, the limitation of access to knowledge, and the problems faced by the digital era have been sparked by lengthy copyright periods, unduly wide protection, and ambiguities in notions like fair use. These concerns highlight the significance of continuous debates and changes to copyright legislation to reflect the changing nature of creativity and technology.

The Copyright Act of 1957 continues to be a pillar of Indian intellectual property law notwithstanding these difficulties. Its importance stems not only from its function as a legal framework but also from its capacity to promote a thriving creative ecosystem that benefits both creators and society at large. The Act’s flexibility and ongoing relevance will be crucial in preserving this precarious balance between rights and access as the digital age continues to transform how we produce, exchange, and consume content.

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