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A Comprehensive Guide to Copyright Laws in India: Protecting Creative Works

What is Property?

A person, who has the exclusive right to the things that are owned by him, i.e. the proprietor, is free to claim, use, and dispose of them as he pleases. He can exchange them for other things, gift them to anyone without taking anything in return, or just let them waste. He enjoys the right to rent, sell, mortgage, transfer, exchange, consume, or even destroy them; he can also exclude others from doing these actions.

However, there are certain things like water, air, sun, etc. over which no one can claim exclusive rights and therefore, cannot be called 'Property'.

So, the principles of a property are:

  • Exclusive right over the use of the property any which way it shall please him
  • Free to derive any benefit from the property
  • Right to sell or transfer the property to whomever he wishes
  • Right to exclude others from the property

The word 'Property' is defined differently in different statutes. However, we mainly consider the definition given under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 and General Clauses Act, 1897.

Property can be classified into two categories � Tangible and Intangible Properties

Tangible property refers to physical assets that can be touched, seen, and measured. These assets have a physical form and include items like real estate, vehicles, machinery, furniture, and personal belongings.

Intangible property refers to an item of value that cannot be touched or physically held. For example, shares of a company such as TCS cannot be touched or felt however those share shows the ownership of the company.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights refer to the legal protections granted to individuals for their intellectual creations. These rights typically provide the creator with exclusive control and usage privileges over their creation for a specified duration.

So, there might be a question as to why we need such protection. The reason is that such legal protection of new creations encourages the commitment of additional resources for further innovation and also helps in the economic growth of a country by creating new jobs and industries and enhancing the quality and enjoyment of life.


WIPO stands for World Intellectual Property Organization which was established in the year 1967. Its headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland. The World Intellectual Property Organization is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN). WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation. They are a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 193 member states. Their mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all.

WIPO defines Intellectual Property Rights in WIPO convention, Stockholm, 1967 under Article 2(viii) as :-

"intellectual property" shall include the rights relating to:
  1. Literary, Artistic And Scientific Works
  2. Performances Of Performing Artists, Phonograms, And Broadcasts
  3. Inventions In All Fields Of Human Endeavor
  4. Scientific Discoveries
  5. Industrial Designs
  6. Trademarks, Service Marks, And Commercial Names And Designations
  7. Protection Against Unfair Competition
And all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.

This definition is comprehensive and covers the most important types of Intellectual Property. Also the phrase "all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields" is intended to cover new types of Intellectual Property that may emerge in the future.


The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It came into effect in the year 1995. It establishes minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of different forms of intellectual property as applied to nationals of other WTO member nations.

The need for protecting ideas and inventions, known as intellectual property rights (IPR), became really important because of technology's role in global competition. As the world became more connected due to globalization, companies worried that some countries didn't protect these rights well enough, which could hurt their business.

To fix this, they created a set of rules called the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. Also, because rich countries were making more high-tech stuff, poorer countries needed help to catch up. So, it was important to support innovation and skill development in these developing nations to bridge the technology gap.

The aim of TRIPS is set out in its Preamble and includes 'reducing distortions and impediments to international trade', promoting adequate and effective IPR protection, and "ensuring that measures and procedures to enforce IPRs do not become barriers to legitimate trade." Broadly, this goal is accomplished by uniting IPRs under a single set of international regulations and establishing minimal IPR protection standards, which will permit cross-border technology flows.

Different types of Intellectual Property:

  1. Copyrights
  2. Patent
  3. Trademark
  4. Industrial designs
  5. Geographical Indication
  6. Layout designs of integrated circuits
  7. Undisclosed information

Intellectual property can be subdivided into two parts- (1) industrial property which includes Patents, Trademark, Geographical indication and so. (2) Copyrights

What is copyright?
Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights of creators over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films. to computer databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

Copyright is defined under section 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957.
The act states that copyright grants the exclusive rights, subject to specified provisions, to perform or authorize certain actions regarding a work. These actions include reproducing, distributing, performing, translating, adapting, and creating derivative works of literary, dramatic, musical, computer program, artistic, cinematograph film, and sound recording works, as well as the sale or rental of copies and communication to the public.

Things are protected by copyright:
  1. Literary works - It includes books, newspaper articles, and blog posts. Even your last email would be considered a literary work.
  2. Musical works - It includes musical notations of all kinds. The famous guitar notes that make up the intro to Stairway to Heaven is considered a musical work.
  3. Dramatic works - It includes plays, screenplays, and TV scripts.
  4. Choreographic works - It includes dances, ballets, and mime performances.
  5. Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works - It includes paintings, drawings, photographs, and digital illustrations.
  6. Sound Recordings - While the musical notes that make up a song is protected as a musical work; the actual recording of that performed notation is protected as a sound recording. Sound recordings are a distinct and independent category from musical recordings because they also include everything that can be recorded and reproduced that isn't music, including speeches, sound effects, and audio books.
  7. Architectural works - Buildings that have elements that meet the general requirements for protection particularly if they have sufficiently original design elements and designs that are independent of the utilitarian purposes of the building, can be protected by copyright law.
Criteria for protection of copyright
Copyright laws don't protect just ideas or facts by themselves. They protect how those ideas are made into something, like a story or a picture, when they are written down or recorded. To get a copyright, you need to do two things:

First, put your ideas into a real form like writing or drawing. You don't have to do anything special; it happens automatically when you create it. But you can make it stronger by registering your work with the Copyright Office. It works for all kinds of stuff, whether it's just an idea or a complete project, and even if it's not published yet.

Second, your way of showing those ideas must be a bit unique. It doesn't have to be amazing or totally different from everything else. Even if it's not great, it can still get copyright protection. If two people come up with similar things on their own, they can each get their own copyright.

But, just working really hard on something isn't enough for copyright. You need at least a little bit of creativity in it. So, copyright helps save the special and creative parts of ideas once they are put into a real form, even if they are not perfect, as long as you follow these rules.

Procedure for registration
In this initial step, the person who created the work, the copyright owner, or an authorized agent must submit an application. This can be done physically at the copyright office, through registered post, or electronically via the official website. Each work requires a separate application, and the appropriate fee must be paid, which varies depending on the type of work. After this step, the applicant receives a unique dairy number.

After applying, you have to wait for at least 30 days. During this time, a copyright expert will look at your application. They're checking for any problems or disagreements. If everything is okay and no one has a problem with your application, you can move on. But if there are issues, they'll let you know, and you might need to talk with the copyright office to fix them. If someone else has a problem with your application, both of you will be asked to talk to the copyright office, and they will make a decision. If they say no to your application or the problems can't be solved, your copyright journey ends here.

The last step is when the copyright office is happy with your application. They might ask for more paperwork if needed. When they are sure everything is okay, they write down the details in their copyright register, and you'll get a certificate that says your work is officially protected by copyright. This process finishes when you get the Extracts of the Register of Copyrights, which shows your work is registered.

Term of copyright
Copyright generally has a 60-year expiration date. For original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, the 60-year window is measured starting from the year after the author's passing. The 60-year period is measured starting from the date of publication for cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of governments, and works of international organizations.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Abhinaba Niyogi
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