In September 2019, Nintendo, a consumer electronics and video games company,
filed a lawsuit against Romuniverse.com, a website involved in hosting pirated
versions of Nintendo games, claiming that the site facilitated the infringement
of its intellectual property by offering memberships that allowed the
subscribers to download games faster than non-subscribers at a subscription fee
of $30 per year. On 1st June 2021, RomUniverse.com was ordered to pay a
compensation of $2.1 million to Nintendo which had sought $15 Million in
The judgment brought a sense of relief to the companies who feared infringement
of their copyrights and came as a warning to those who were involved in
copyright infringement. Cases of copyright infringement have increased
drastically amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic world because of increasing
digitalization and internet usage. Everyone especially the educators has run
headlong into the digital world without a thought to the application of
copyright law to their works. A copyright is a collection of rights that protect
original works of authorship like literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic
works. It exists from the moment the work is created and fixed in tangible form.
Some works which are in the public domain can be copied.
These include works:
- Which are willingly dedicated to the public,
- Works for which copyrights have expired or
- The work for which the copyright was not renewed.
In India, all works published before January 1, 1925, have entered the public
The Awareness of Copyright law has increased immensely among people since this
global pandemic hit the world. IPR (Intellectual property rights) is playing a
very crucial role in this fight against the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic. On 30
January 2020 when the Covid-19 outbreak was declared a Public health emergency
by the World Health Organization, it was decided that all nations will fight
together to defeat this global pandemic.
But a question that arose was whether
all countries are free to use resources that are patented in other countries.
There were many instances where the transfer of technical know-how was denied to
third parties to manufacture products essential to fight COVID-19. In the United
States, the governor of the state of Kentucky admitted to difficulties in
procurement and manufacturing N-95 masks owing to several patents. Even Italian
engineers desiring to manufacture ventilator valves through 3D printing
technology were denied access to the designs of some components, forcing them to
engage in reverse engineering.
News like these created panic among the people as
COVID-19 cases was on the rise in almost every country across the globe. Even
the developed countries like the USA seemed clueless about how the virus could
be tackled. So a resolution of the World Health Assembly has worked out in which
all the member states of the World Health Organization recognized the possible
need for countries to adopt measures to ensure that Intellectual property rights
do not constrain global equitable access to health technologies for Covid 19
through the full use of the flexibilities of the agreement on trade-related
aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Even India had to amend its patent law to effectively enable foreign
pharmaceutical companies to obtain patent protection for medicines. Antiviral
Drug Remdesivir was patented by a company named Gilead. It has earlier granted a
license to only 5 companies to produce Remdesivir. But this led to a shortage of
the drug in the market. But after the TRIPS Agreement, a large number of Indian
companies produced the product ensuring the availability of the same at an
According to the International Intellectual Property Index, which was released
by the US Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre and evaluates an
economy's ecosystem-based on 50 unique indicators that the industry believes
represent economies with the most effective Intellectual Property systems, India
ranked 40th out of 53 global economies, while the Netherlands ranked first. It
was reported that the global IP environment improved in 2020, with a positive
score increasing in 32 out of the 53 economies measured by the IP Index. India
scored 38.40 out of 100 which was a marginal decrease from the previous score of
The Copyright Act, 1957 is the governing law for copyright protection in India.
Section 13 of the Copyrights Act,1957 is the most important as it provides for
the classes of works for which copyrights subsist. Section 14 of the Copyrights
Act, 1957 states the exclusive rights which are issued once the copyrights have
During the ongoing Pandemic, there have been increasing cases of piracy
especially in the field of Cinematography. Recently there have been two
highlighted cases of piracy. One is the Amazon web series, Family Man-2
and the other one is a Movie Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai
. But these cases
of copyright infringement are not something new to the movie industry in India.
In 2016, XYZ Films filed a case against UTV Motion Pictures in 2016 alleging
that their film, Raid: The Redemption was copied and compressed into the last
twenty minutes of the movie, Baaghi and prayed for an order of injunction
against the release of the film.
The court applied the test laid down in the
landmark judgement RG Anand vs Deluxe Films which stated:
If the viewer after having read or seen both the works is clearly of the
opinion and gets an unmistakable impression that the subsequent work appears to
be a copy of the original, then the copyrights have been infringed.
Bombay High Court observed that the rival work is completely different. There is
no similarity between the central theme of both movies. Copyright has not been
infringed and therefore no injunction against the release of the movie was
Many videos go viral of performers' work without their consent which leads to
violation of their moral and economic rights. Article 7 of the Rome Convention
gives protection to the rights of performers from broadcasting or communicating
to the public without their consent. The right also prevents anyone from
reproducing their work or commercially exploit it for their benefit. In 1994,
Performers' rights were recognized under the Copyright Act 1957 in India.
dispute arose as to what will constitute a live performance. The Court solved
the issue in the landmark judgement of Neha Bhasin vs Anand Raj
by stating that
whether the performance is recorded in the studio or front of the audience, both
will be called live performance and if anyone uses such performance without the
consent of the performer then performer's rights are said to be infringed.
Both civil and criminal remedies have been provided by the Copyrights Act,1957
against infringement of copyrights. Civil remedies are given under Section 55
and 58 of the Copyright Act,1957 provides for Interlocutory Injunction, Account
of profits, Compensatory damages, Rendition of accounts, Delivery, and
destruction of infringing copies.
Criminal remedies are covered under chapter 13 of the copyright act,1957. The
principal penal provision is section 63 which states that any person who
knowingly infringes or abets the infringement of copyright or any other right
covered by the Copyrights Act,1957 such person may be punished with imprisonment
of a minimum term of six months and a maximum term of three years and a fine of
between 50,000 and 2,00,000 rupees. It also provides for the seizing of
infringing copies. The provisions are lenient as compared to the USA where the
infringer may be imprisoned up to 5 years and fined up to $2,50,000.
The Infringement of copyrights leads to huge economic loss to the owner of the
original work. For example, if a movie is copied and its pirated copy is being
sold at half the price of the original copy every potential customer will buy it
irrespective of whether it is legitimate or not. People also make copies for
non-commercial purposes like making a copy for a friend which also leads to a
loss in demand. This not only leads to economic loss for the owner who doesn't
get rewarded for his art but also the nation as fewer sales lead to loss of tax
revenue to the Government.
To avoid infringement of copyrights the government should take the following
- Establishment of an independent investigation team that knows the
copyright laws so that it can decide to seize infringed copies. Though the
Police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector has been given the power
to seize all copies if they feel that copyrights have been infringed, it has
been observed through surveys that Police Officers don't pay attention to
copyright matters as they give priority to murders, theft, etc. So there is
a need to educate the police officers about copyright law and command them
to pay equal attention to copyright matters.
- Establishment of a special cell for copyright enforcement in all the
states and union territories. For instance, 19 out of 29 states have a
special cell for copyright enforcement. The Central Government shall ensure
that all states have an active special cell for copyright enforcement that
monitors the activities of habitual infringers.
- A massive publicity campaign regarding the ills of copyright violation
mentioning it's being a criminal offense, consequences, etc. could be
launched. Everyone including the Government, local authorities, rightsholders,
associations, law enforcing authorities, etc have to join hands together. The
campaign could be launched on a large scale through mass media like newspapers,
journals. It is generally seen though people are aware of it being an offense
still sees piracy as a medium of earning small amounts because there is no
strict enforcement of copyrights law.
- There is a need to impose stricter punishment on infringement of
Copyrights. The term of imprisonment should be increased upto5 years and the
fine needs to increase up to 10 Lakh. It is because of the minimal punishment and the weak
machinery to enforce Copyright law that people take these laws lightly leading
to a rise in cases of copyright infringement.
- Registration of copyright should be made mandatory.
The purpose of copyright laws is to protect the rights of the owners of original
work and provide economic benefits to them for their creativity and diligence.
It aims to balance the interests of those who create content with the public
interest in having the widest possible access to that content. It is highly
recommended to register as soon as your idea gets transformed into writing as it
will be a strong proof to be presented before the court in case of infringement.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Devam Goel
Authentication No: JL34764995165-10-0721