Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, the rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work.
Copyright ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. Creativity being the keystone of progress, no civilized society can afford to ignore the basic requirement of encouraging the same. Economic and social development of a society is dependent on creativity. The protection provided by copyright to the efforts of writers, artists, designers, dramatists, musicians, architects and producers of sound recordings, cinematograph films and computer software, creates an atmosphere conducive to creativity, which induces them to create more and motivates others to create.1
Acquisition of copyright is automatic and it does not require any formality. Copyright comes into existence as soon as a work is created and no formality is required to be completed for acquiring copyright. However, certificate of registration of copyright and the entries made therein serve as prima facie evidence in a court of law with reference to disputes relating to ownership of copyright.2
Sections 44 to 50A of the Copyright Act, 1957 deals with registration of copyrights. Chapter XIII of the Copyright Rules, 2013, as amended, sets out the procedure for the registration of a work.
Registration of Copyright
Registration of copyright protects the ownership of the work from any unnecessary disputes. In the event of probable copyright infringement dispute, certificate of registration of copyright and the Register of Copyright containing particulars of registered copyrights are considered as “admissible evidence” in a court of law. These serve as prima facie evidence with reference to disputes relating to ownership of copyright.
However, registration of works is not mandatory for availing the protection under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. Thus, we can say that such protection works as an “automatic” right.
Asian Paints (I) Ltd. Vs Jaikishan Paints & Allied Products3,
In this landmark case, the Hon’ble Bombay High Court observed: “Registration under the Copyright Act is optional and not compulsory. Registration is not necessary to claim a copyright. Registration under the Copyright Act merely raises a prima facie presumption in respect of the particulars entered in the Register of Copyright. The presumption is however not conclusive. The Copyright subsists as soon as the work is created and given a material form even if it is not registered”.
International Association of Lions Clubs Vs National Association of Indian Lions4
The Hon’ble Bombay High Court reiterated that registration thereof, is only a prima facie evidence of an ownership of such a copyright and Design.
R.G. Anand’s Case5
The Apex court held that registration of works is not mandatory for availing copyright protection. Therefore, through various cases, the Courts in India have upheld the principle of ‘automatic protection’ and that registration is not a condition prerequisite for availing copyright protection.
Section 48 of the Copyright Act, 1957
The section enumerates that the Register of Copyrights shall be prima facie evidence of the particulars entered therein and documents purporting to be copies of any entries therein, or extracts therefrom, certified by the Registrar of Copyrights and sealed with the seal of the Copyright Office shall be admissible in evidence in all courts without further proof or production of the original. Further, the Act has established a Copyright Office6 under the immediate control of the Registrar of Copyrights, an administrative authority who shall act under the superintendence and direction of the Central Government. The Office so established is responsible for the registration of copyright.
Section 44 of the Copyright Act, 1957
It enumerates the Register of Copyright. It says that there shall be kept at the Copyright Office a register in the prescribed form to be called the Register of Copyrights in which the names or titles of works and the names and addresses of authors, publishers and owners of copyright and such other particulars may be entered by the Registrar of Copyright.
Section 45 of the Copyright Act, 1957
Section 45 of the Copyright Act, 1957 read with Rule 16 of The Copyright Rules, 1958 prescribes detailed procedure for registration of copyright in India. Such procedure has been explained below.
Scope and extent of Copyright Registration
Both published and unpublished works can be registered. There exists a set procedure for registration of a work under the Copyright Rules, 1958 which has been suitably amended from time to time and registration is provided for both published and unpublished works. Copyright in works published before 21st January, 1958, i.e., before the Copyright Act, 1957 came into force, can also be registered, provided the works still enjoy copyright.
All kinds of literary and artistic works can be copyrighted. One may also file a copyright application for his/her website or other computer program.
Computer Software or programme
It can be registered as a ‘literary work’. As per Section 2 (o) of the Copyright Act, 1957 “literary work” includes computer programmes, tables and compilations, including computer databases. ‘Source Code’ and “Object Code” have also to be supplied along with the application for registration of copyright for software products
A website may be understood as a webpage or set of interconnected webpages, hosted or stored on a server, and is made available online to members of the public. Users can access the information and other underlying work on a website through various means such as scrolling webpages, using internal hypertext links or a search feature. Website usually consists of different rudiments which may be copyrightable subject matter that falls within any one of the classes of work set forth in Section 13 of the Copyright Act, 1957. The component parts of website can be in different forms of digital files such as text, tables, computer programmes, compilations including computer databases (“literary works”); photographs, paintings, diagram, map, chart or plan (“artistic works”); works consisting of music and including graphical notation of such work (“musical works”); “sound recordings” and “cinematograph films”.
Websites as a whole are not subject to copyright protection. Generally, non-copyrightable content particular to websites may include but are not limited to ideas or future plans of websites, functional elements of websites, unclaimable material, layout and format or ‘look and feel’ of a website or its webpage; or other common, unoriginal material such as names, icons or familiar symbols. Applicant is required to submit a separate application for each component work/content appearing on a website.7Copyright protection prevents undue proliferation of private products or works, and ensures the individual owner retains significant rights over his creation.
Even an App is a complete, self-contained computer program that is designed to perform specific tasks. Usually called ‘Apps’ for short, application programs are the most familiar forms of software and come in a very wide variety of types. An App usually has primarily dynamic content and is designed for user interaction. It may be used directly or indirectly in a computer or hand held electronic device.
An App may be registered as a computer program under literary works as provided under Section 2(o) of the Copyright Act, 1957. For this purpose, applicant is required to submit an application for registration under software category, accompanied by the source and object code as provided under Rule 70 (5) of the Copyright Rules 2013.
It is important to note that the registration will cover any screen displays generated by that program, provided that the computer program (code) generating the screen display is submitted by the applicant. Mere snapshots of screen display of an app are not eligible for copyright protection.7
Procedure for Registration of Copyright
Section 45 of the Copyright Act, 1957 read with Rule 16 of The Copyright Rules, 1958 prescribes detailed procedure for registration of copyright in India. The procedure for registration is as follows:
- Any individual who is an author or rights owner or assignee or legal heir can file application for copyright of a work either at the copyright office or by post or by e-filing facility from the copyright Office web-site “www.copyright.gov.in”.
The Copyright Office has been set up to provide registration facilities to all types of works and is headed by a Registrar of Copyrights and is located at Plot no. 32, Boudhik Sampada Bhawan, Sector 14, Dwarka, New Delhi- 110075. The applications are also accepted by post. On-line registration through “E-filing facility” has been provided from 14th February 2014, which facilitates the applicants to file applications at the time and place chosen by them.
- Application for registration is to be made on Form XIV (Including Statement of Particulars and Statement of Further Particulars) as prescribed in the first schedule to the Rules8;
Provided that in respect of an artistic work which is used or is capable of being used in relation to any goods or services, the application shall include a statement to that effect and shall be accompanied by a certificate from the Registrar of TradeMarks referred to in Section 3 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, to the effect that no trademark identical with or deceptively similar to such artistic work has been registered under that Act in the name of, or that no application has been made under that Act for such registration by, any person other than the applicant.9
- Separate applications should be made for registration of each work;
- Each application should be accompanied by the requisite fee prescribed in the Second Schedule to the Rules. The fee is to be paid either in the form of Demand Draft or Indian Postal Order favouring “Registrar of Copyrights Payable at New Delhi” or through E payment. The fee is not reimbursable in case of rejection of the application.
- The applications should be signed by the applicant. The Power of Attorney signed by the party and accepted by the advocate should also be enclosed, if applicable.
- After filing of the application, the applicant will then receive a diary number. Such number will be handed over after a mandatory period of 30 days. The provision of thirty days is granted, so that the Registrar may make an inquiry and entertain such objections, if so raised10.
- In case any objection is filed, the Registrar of Copyrights after giving an opportunity of hearing to both parties, may decide to register the work or otherwise. Authorities send out letters to the two concerned parties, trying to convince them to take back the objection. After requisite replies from the third party, the registrar conducts a hearing. Depending on whether the registrar accepts the reply, the procedure takes shape.
- If no objection is filed, the application is examined by the examiners. Further, during the examination, if any discrepancy is found, a letter of discrepancy is sent to the applicant. Based on the reply from the applicant, the registrar conducts a hearing of the alleged discrepancy row. Once the discrepancies are sorted during the hearing, the extracts of the same are sent to the applicant for him/her to register the copyright, the applicant is given ordinarily 45 days’ time to remove the discrepancies.
In case of zero discrepancy, the copyright application fulfils all criteria required for the copyright. The applicant is then given the nod to go ahead with the registration of the same.
- On further submission of documents, if the Copyright Registrar, is completely satisfied with the completeness and correctness of the claim made in the application, he shall enter the particulars of the copyright in the register of copyrights and further issue a Certificate of Registration. Registration completes when the applicant is issued with the copy of entries made in the Register of Copyrights.
If the registration is not approved, then the applicant will receive a letter of rejection.
- As per the Rule 70(12) of the Copyright Rules, 2013, an opportunity of hearing must be given. However, only after hearing, it may be decided to register the work or to reject it. The applicant himself or his/her pleader may appear in the hearing.
- As per Section 72 of the Copyright Act, 1957 any person aggrieved by a final decision or order of the Registrar of Copyrights may, within three months from the date of the order or decision, appeal to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).
Documents Required for Copyright Registration11:
1. Name, Address & Nationality of the Candidate – ID proof
2. NOC from the publisher if work published and publisher is different from the applicant.
3. Search Certificate from Trade Mark Office (TM -60), if any
4. NOC from a person whose photograph appears on the work.
5. Power of Attorney
6. 2 Copies of work
7. KYC of author
8. DD/IPO of amount per work (as applicable)
9. NOC from the author if the candidate is different from the author.
If the work to be registered is unpublished, a copy of the manuscript has to be sent along with the application for affixing the stamp of the Copyright Office in proof of the work having been registered. One copy of the same duly stamped will be returned, while the other will be retained, as far as possible, in the Copyright Office for record and will be kept confidential. It would also be open to the applicant to send only extracts from the unpublished work instead of the whole manuscript and ask for the return of the extracts after being stamped with the seal of the Copyright Office.
When a work has been registered as unpublished and subsequently it is published, the applicant may apply for changes in particulars entered in the Register of Copyright in Form XV with prescribed fee. The process of registration and fee for registration of copyright is the same.
Benefits of Registration of Copyright
Copyright registration is very important for the one who creates something unique. Copyright secures companies, authors, writers, software developers, etc. They offer several benefits13:
- Copyright serves as a legal protection, since it is accepted as prima facie evidence in the court of law over ownership of the work. Along with this, it offers Infringement Protection. It gives the creator the right way to get to people who are copying their work. The proof is required to attest to anything in the court of law. Hence, here the copyright registration is very beneficial for creators. Also, when the registration of copyright is done, a clear public record is made that benefits the original creator to build his ownership over the said copyright.
- Registered copyright can be applied for marketing and building a sense of goodwill along with quality in the minds of your customers. Registered copyright tells others that you care about want you invented.
- After the creator’s death, protection can be extended. Copyright’s protection is not restricted to the initial creators’ life span its validity is higher than any other intellectual property. It is for 60 years after his/her death also.
- The registration makes work recognized across the world and it becomes searchable in the copyright registry database. Once copyright registration is made it limits the use of work without the authorization of the creator.
- Registered copyrights are intellectual property and the rights can be traded, franchised or commercially engaged. Thus, it acts as an asset of the individual or company.
- Works that are copyrighted in many other countries are allowed similar privileges here in India. Furthermore, works copyright registered in India are given protection in many foreign countries.
3. 2002 (6) Bom CR 1: (2002) 4 Bom LR 941: 2002(4) MAH LJ 536.
4. 2006 (33) PTC 79 (BOM) 91
5. AIR 1978 SC 1613
6. Section 9 of the Copyright Act, 1957
8. Section 45 (1) of the Copyright Act, 1957
9. Proviso to Section 45 (1) of the Copyright Act, 1957
10. Section 45 (3) of the Copyright Act, 1957
Tanvi hails from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies and spends most of her time reading and researching. Her Interest areas are Property Law, Human Rights Law and Constitutional Law. For any clarifications, feedback, and advice, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org