The fundamental principle of copyright law is that a copyright exists only with the expression of idea and not with the idea itself. The owner can only prevent the copying of the manner in which the work is expressed and not the theme behind the work.
Copyright law provides exclusive and monopoly legitimate right to the creator/author/owner of the work for a limited period. The law covers creator of the“original” literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, rights of producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. Computer Software is considered as a literary work; hence protectable under copyrights.
Term of protection for copyright work is either lifetime of the author plus 60 years or 60 years from the date of first publication depending on the category of work.
Under the statutory definition of Copyright (Section 14 of Copyright Act), "copyright" means the exclusive right to do or authorize the doing of any of the following acts in respect of a work or any substantial part thereof, namely:-
- Literary, dramatic or musical work
- Artistic work
- Cinematograph film
- Sound recording
- Computer program
The owner of a copyright may exploit the work himself or license it to others to exploit any one or more of the rights for a consideration in the form of a lump sum payment or royalty or both.
Rights of a Copyright holder
The rights that one holds when he/she holds a copyright are:
- Statutory Rights: Right, which an author of a work has by the virtue of creating the work.
- Author's Special Rights: Even after the assignment either wholly or partially of the said copyright, the author of a work shall have the right to claim the authorship of the work; and to restrain or claim damages in respect of any distortion, mutilation, modification or other act in relation to the work which will be prejudicial to her/his honor or reputation.
- Economic Rights: The author may exploit his work himself/herself or license to others to exploit any one or more rights for a monetary consideration.
- Multiple Rights: Bundle of rights, which can exist and be exploited independently, depending on the category of work;
- Related Rights under Copyright: Related rights come into picture when an already registered or unregistered copyright work is used to derive further work from it. As per the Indian Copyright Act,2012, related rights are categorized into two divisions:
- Right to a Performer: "Performer" includes an actor, singer, musician, dancer, acrobat, juggler, conjurer, snake charmer, a person delivering a lecture or any other person who makes a performance. The term of protection of Performer’s rights subsist for 50 years
- Right to a Broadcaster: "Broadcast" means communication to the public by any means of wireless diffusion, whether in any one or more of the forms of signs, sounds or visual images; or by wire. The term of protection of Broadcaster’s rights subsist for 25 years.
Ownership of Copyright
Subject to the provisions of this Act, the author of a work shall be the first owner of the copyright therein. If the author is employed with a newspaper, magazine or similar periodicals, the proprietor shall be the first owner of the copyright in the work. In the case of a photograph taken or a painting or portrait drawn or an engraving or a cinematograph film made for valuable consideration at the instance of any person, such person shall be the first owner of the copyright.
In case of any address or speech delivered in public, the person who has delivered such address or speech or if a person has delivered such address or speech on behalf of any other person, such other person shall be the first owner of the copyright. In the case of a Government work, Government shall be the first owner of the copyright. In the case of a work made or first published by or under the direction or control of any public undertaking, such public undertaking shall be the first owner of the copyright.