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Doctrine Of Fair Dealing Under Copyright Law

Intellectual Property Rights plays a vital role in protecting the rights of creators and inventors. It includes copyright, patents, trademark, geographical indications, designs, biological diversity, integrated circuits and so on. Basically the original work or invention is protected under this law. The Copyrights Act, 1957 was formulated in order to protect the rights of a person who claims to be the first and true owner of his work. It simply protects the right of creators so that the originality of work is preserved.

It covers wide variety of works such as literary works, cinematographic films and sound recordings. In modern era, the new technology has resulted in increasing problems with e-content. The material available at different websites is copied easily and the originality of work is destroyed. We all are aware of the term plagiarism which means copying the content from the already published source.

Many softwares are available which detects the percentage of plagiarism of any documents but still the people finds the way out to steal the material. For this, the concept of paraphrasing came up. It is a technique of using certain synonymous words in place of the original words but the major disadvantage is the sentence loses its meaning. It turns into a meaningless text. Then a question arises �how can we copy the material of the other person�? The answer is no, we do not have a right to copy the material/text/content of any person.

Section 13 of Copyright Act, 1957

Under this section, copyright protection is conferred on literary works, dramatic works, musical works, artistic works, cinematographic films and sound recordings. Copyright provides us a bundle of rights under section 14 of the said act. These rights are exercised exclusively y the owner of such original work. It includes right of adaptation, right of reproduction etc. Such right takes birth from the moment such work is created. Mere idea is not a copyright subject matter.

Under section 17 of the said act, the author or creator is the first owner of copyright. So IPR provides exclusive rights to the true owner of the original content. But there are certain exceptions to copyright. Section 52 of Copyright Act, 1957 deals with such exceptions which is also known as doctrine of fair dealing.

Doctrine of Fair Dealing

There is no such definition of fair dealing but this concept is very widely interpreted. It is a legal doctrine which clarifies the issue that up to what extent the material is to be copied/ used. There exists a difference between fair dealing and infringement of copyright. This concept depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case.

The fair nature of the dealing depends on the following four factors:

  • the purpose of use
  • the nature of the work
  • the amount of the work used, and
  • the effect of use of the work on the original

According to section 52 of the said act following are the exclusions from copyright infringement because they constitute the fair dealing:

  • The material copied for the purpose of research (All works except Computer Programmes)
  • Work copied for criticism or review (All works except Computer Programmes)
  • Fair dealing of any work used to report current affairs (Computer Programmes)
  • Legally obtained copies for non-commercial personal use, and making their copies further is fair dealing under copyright act (Computer Programmes)
  • Transient or incidental storage of a work or performance purely in the technical process of electronic transmission or communication to the public (All Works)
  • Legislative material (All Works)
  • Reading the content in public (Sound Recordings)
  • Publication in collection of non-copyright matter, bona fide intended for instructional use (Literary or dramatic works)
  • Reproduction by teacher or pupil (All Works)
  • Most importantly, the question and answers in the examination (All works)
  • Performance in educational institution (All works)
  • A recording heard in residential premises (Sound recordings)
  • Reproduction of newspaper and articles (All works)
  • Storing work in non-commercial library (All works)
  • Making of not more than three copies of a book (including a pamphlet, sheet of music, map, chart or plan) by or under the direction of the person in charge for the use of the library if such book is not available for sale in India (Literary works)
  • Material used for the purpose of research, private study or publication (Literary, dramatic or musical works)
  • Report of any committee, commission, council, board appointed by Government (Literary works)
  • The making or publishing of a painting, drawing, engraving or photograph of a work (Artistic work)
  • The making or publishing of a painting, drawing, engraving or photograph of a sculpture if such work is permanently situated in a public place (Artistic work)
  • Any judgment or order by court, tribunal or other judicial authority (Literary works)
  • Storage, reconstruction and exhibition (Cinematographic films)
  • The making or publishing of a painting, drawing, engraving or photograph of a sculpture if such work is permanently situated in a public place (Artistic work)
The above list is not exhaustive. The fair dealing includes many other materials also. Therefore we can clearly say that any use which is not solely used for commercial purpose comes under the exception of copyright materials. Moreover, the doctrine of fair use, as the name suggests, the content copied for fair dealing comes under this category.

So, there are certain exceptions to copyright infringement of which we can take advantage of. This act provides the protection to the owner of copyright material but it also permits the use of such material to public at large up to certain limitation. So, doctrine of fair dealing is very important in copyright law.

  • Indian Copyright Act, 1957

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