This article is authored by Kirti Bhushan, a student of Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi. This article focusses primarily on how copyright can be registered in India. In India, various provisions of copyright registration are governed by the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Copyright Rules, 2013.
Copyright is a legal means of protecting one’s work for example work of an author or an artist etc. It is one of the many intellectual property rights available to a person and it serves the purposes of exclusive publication, distribution and usage rights for the owner of such copyright. Whenever someone creates any content which is new and is a result of one’s creativity and hard work, one certainly wants to enjoy the benefits to accrue therefrom: pecuniary or otherwise.
In India, copyright can be secured for having original works in various areas viz. literary works, fashion designs, music, cinematography films, artistic works such as paintings, performances, software and other computer programs and compilations etc. It is noteworthy that copyright does not protect titles, names, ideas, concepts, slogans, methods, and short phrases.
Need for Registering a Copyright
Generally, when one creates any original work, a copyright is automatically generated. The problem arises when someone copies or steals your work. No doubt, the legal redress is available and it will be easier for one to prove that the work is originally theirs if they have the copyright registered for the same. Thus, it serves numerous purposes of legal ownership and an evidence, using one’s work for broadcasting it and or earning profits therefrom and most importantly it creates a public record of one’s creation.
Who Can get a Copyright Registered in his Name?
The person who developed the original work can get copyright registered in his name by submitting an application for the same. Such a person is called Author of the work. He is legally allowed to get a copyright for his work. It also includes the ‘work made for hire’ i.e. if the original work is made during the course of employment then the employer will be the author.
Another person that can get copyright registered in his name can be the Owner of exclusive rights. In India, the copyright law grants such a person to exclusively control, use and distribute the original work. It includes many rights with respect to the original work viz. the right to reproduce or make copies or distribute the copies, the right to the public display of the work, the right to perform as well as the right to change or make derivates of the original work. Thus, such a person called the owner of these exclusive rights can make an application for registering his claim to the original work.
Another category includes the Copyright Claimant i.e. either the author or any person or organization that has obtained ownership rights from the author. This can be done in many ways i.e. through a will, contract etc.
There is another category namely the Authorized Agent i.e. a person who has been authorized to act on behalf of an author or the copyright claimant or the owner of exclusive rights.
There is no age bar as to who can get a copyright registered therefore, a minor can also register the same. The rationale behind this is there can be no age restraint when it comes to creativity.
In case where the number of creators exceed one then they are co-owners of such a copyright unless they have agreed otherwise.
General Documentation Requirements
It would be helpful to discuss the vital documents which are required to register a copyright under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. It should be kept in mind that there are different requirements for different kinds of work but generally these are as follows:
- If the work is published then three copies of the same and if it is unpublished then two copies of the unpublished work are required. And if the copyright is required for software, then source code and object code of such work are also mandatory.
- In case it is a published work then the year and address of first publication is also a requirement along with any and every information regarding the year and country of subsequent publications.
- The authorization requirements must be met if the work is not of the person applying for getting a copyright from the owner of the work.
- The special Power of Attorney must be signed by both the attorney as well as the party authorizing the attorney to file an application on their behalf.
- The information specifying the name, address and nationality of the applicant. If the applicant is not the author or the author is deceased, a document containing the name, address and nationality of the author and/or the date of his death as the case may be must be submitted. The applicant also needs to provide his email address and mobile number.
- The information regarding the title and language of the work must be submitted.
- No-Objection requisites: A no-objection certificate is required from the office of trademarks if the work is intended to be used on a product. A no-objection certificate and/or authorization from the author is required if the applicant is not the author. Also, in case there is any photograph of any person appearing in the work, then a no-objection certificate from him is required as well. Whereas in case there is a publisher involved and he is not the applicant, a no-objection certificate from such publisher is required.
Procedure for Registering a Copyright
The original work can be registered under the Register of Copyrights (ROC) by virtue of Chapter X of the Copyright Act, 1957. There are also various rules incorporated in the Copyright Rules, 2013 and Chapter XIII governs the registration of a copyright.
The steps involved in the registration process are: filing an application, examination of such application and then registration of the copyright. They are briefly discussed below:
- Filing of an application: The applicant (author, owner of exclusive rights, copyright claimant or an authorized agent) can file an application either by submitting it physically in the Copyrights Office or through registered/speed post or through e-filing the application on copyright.gov.in which is an official government website. One must keep in mind that there is different registration for each work and thus, a separate application must be filed. There is a requisite fee which is different for different works and must be given at the time of filing an application. It must be noted here that all the requisite documents as specified above must be submitted along with the filing of such application. Then a diary number will be issued by the Registrar of Copyrights.
- Examination of Application: Once the application is filed, there is a minimum thirty days waiting period for reviewing the application as well as to see if there are any objections raised with respect to the said application.
Then, in case there are no objections raised, the examiner will review and scrutinize the application and see if the documents attached therewith are complete and in case there are no discrepancies found then the application reaches the next stage else the applicant is asked through a Letter of Discrepancy to appear in a hearing before a Registrar based upon the applicant’s reply to such an application. As soon as the discrepancy is solved, the application reaches the next stage.
In case there are any objections raised by someone, then letters for attending a hearing before a Registrar are sent to both the parties. If the objection is rejected, the application is reviewed for any discrepancy as explained above and if it is cleared then it moves to the next stage. In case the objection is not clarified or the discrepancy is not resolved, then the application is rejected and a letter of rejection is sent to the applicant.
- Registration of Copyright: The registrar may ask for any additional documents if it is required. As soon as the Registrar is satisfied by the claim made by an applicant, then the details of the copyright are entered in the register of the copyrights by the Registrar and then a certificate is issued of such registration to the applicant. The process culminates when extracts of the Register of Copyrights is issued to the applicant.
Therefore, registration of a copyright is a fool proof method of securing one’s right of his intellectual property. It is this sense of security that thrives the creativity of the people as well as enable people to economically benefit from their work. In a society where such rights are not provided to the authors, the spirit of creativity and growth would perish.
To provide suitable redress or protection to the copyright holders, the Copyright Act, 1957 provides imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine of not less than INR 50,000 in case their right is infringed by someone. Thus, a copyright comes into existence as soon as an original work is created. The process of registration facilitates the redress in case of violation of one’s rights.
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