Under the provisions of copyright Act 1957, criminal complaint can be filed
in order to initiate criminal proceeding. The provision of Section 63 of the
Copyright Act 1957 provides for the offence under the Copyright Act 1957.
Section 63 of the Copyright Act 1957 talks about infringement of copyright, but
it does not define the infringement. While Section 64 of the Copyright Act of
1957 empowers police authorities to seize infringing goods.
Now the question arises as to whether a police authority can register an FIR
against any person after invoking the provisions of Section 64 of the Copyright
Act 1957. Or in other words, can it be said that Section 64 of the Copyright Act
1957 provides for criminal liability?
The Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad , vide its Judgment dated
14.09.2022 passed in Criminal Misc Application No.8581 of 2022 titled as Mahesh Bhai Vs State of Gujarat
, was having an occasion to address this issue.
Now coming to the facts of the case, an FIR has been registered against the
applicant at the behest of a criminal complaint filed by Respondent No.2.
The subject matter FIR was registered on the grounds of inter alia alleging
violation of Section 64 of the Copyright Act 1957.
The applicant claimed to be the registered owner of the copyright. Hence, the
mentioned FIR could not have been registered against the applicant.
In order to appreciate the argument of the applicant, let us see what Section 51
of the Copyright Act 1957 provides for.
51.Copyright in a work shall be deemed to be infringed:
- When any person, without a license granted by the owner of the Copyright
or the Registrar of Copyrights under this Act or in contravention of the
conditions of a license so granted or of any condition imposed by a
competent authority under this Act.
From bare perusal of Section 51 of the Copyright Act 1957 it is apparent that if
a person does have license from the Registrar of Copyright, then such act does
not amount to be infringement of Copyright.
In the facts of the case, the High Court interpreted the copyright registration
granted in favor of the Applicant, to be such license given by the Registrar of
The Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat observed that since the Applicant is
registered proprietor of the copyright. Hence necessary ingredients of Section
51 of the Copyright Act 1957 has not been satisfied.
The Hon'ble further observed that there is no any question of registration of
FIR by the Police authorities against the Applicant herein as Section 64 of the
copyright Act 1957 provides the power to the police authorities only to
investigate the matter. Let is see what Section 64 of the Copyright Act 1957
64. Power of police to seize infringing copies
- Where a magistrate has taken cognizance of any offence under section 63
in respect of the infringement of copyright in any work, it shall be lawful
for any police officer, not below the rank of sub-inspector, to seize
without any warrant from the magistrate, all copies of the work wherever
found, which appear to him to be infringing copies of the work and all
copies so seized shall, as soon as practicable, be produced before the
Thus, it is apparent that Section 64 of the Copyright Act 1957 does not
define an offence. It is only the enabling section which empowers the police
authorities to seize the infringing products.
The Hon'ble Court rightly observed that under Section 64 of the Copyright Act,
the police authorities can only seize the infringing goods. Section 64 of the
Copyright Act does not provide for any offence. Hence, the police authorities
wrongly registered the FIR against the applicant.
The conclusion would be like this: a police authority can not register an FIR
against any person after invoking Section 64 of the Copyright Act 1957. It is
only a provision that provides power to a police authority to investigate the
matter and seize the infringing product. No criminal liability can be affixed on
the basis of Section 64 of the Copyright Act 1957. Of course, aid under Section
51 and 63 would be required in order to fix criminal liability on any person.
This is so because neither Section 63 nor Section 64 of the Copyright Act 1957
provides for what constitutes an infringement. Without satisfying the necessary
ingredients of Section 51 of the Copyright Act 1957, an FIR solely registered on
the basis of Section 64 of the Copyright Act 1957, would not be maintainable.
Case Law Discussed:
Mahesh Bhai Vs State of Gujarat
Case No. Criminal Misc Application No.8581 of 2022
Hon'ble High Court of Ahmedabad
Niral R Mehta , H.J
Written By: Ajay Amitabh Suman
, IPR Advocate, Hon'ble High Court of