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Copyright is an exclusive right granted by the government to the artists, authors for their original literary and artistic works.

Literary works include poems, songs, dramatic works, dialogues, musical notes (even ringtones), etc.

Artistic works include etching, blueprints, photographs, movies, videos with audio content, sound recordings ( example : sounds from the nature - waves, birds, etc.)

In India computer programmes can be copyrighted. They can also be patented in specific circumstances.

Whenever somebody refers to somebody else’s work in news etc., they have to show that they have referred to the same (courtesy) and that it was important to refer to the same. This is not the case for commercial purposes. 

Duration/Term of Copyright

In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, the duration of copyright is the lifetime of the author or artist, and 60 years counted from the year following the death of the author.

In the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organisations, they are protected for a period of 60 years which is counted from the year following the date of publication.

Most legislations allow the renewal of copyrights after the said/ pre- determined period. If the copyright is not renewed after the said period, the artistic works are then considered to be in the public domain. Once the works are in public domain they can be used by the other artists to refurbish them or to create new artworks with their own additions. In such cases, the original artist will still hold the moral rights to the artwork while the artist who used the artwork will have copyright over the additions he/she/ they made to the artwork.

There is no need to register copyrights. Once the work is created it is assumed to be protected by the copyright laws. 

In case of budget/ investment intensive projects like movies it is recommended to register copyrights as it has evidential value  in the court in case of infringement to prove that it is an original work of the plaintiff as an original creator.

Ideas or thoughts in the mind cannot be copyrighted. They can be copyrighted only when they are fixated - expressed in material forms - written, recorded.

Special choreography (dance moves/ step wise dance and aerobic performances ) can be protected under the copyright laws if they are unique and substantial.

Sports moves cannot be copyrighted due to being a de minimis exception.

The de minimis exception : The de minimis exception gets its name after the legal maxim “de minimis non-curat lex”. It means “the law does not concern itself with trifles.” Furthermore. the maxim states that the law will not resolve the small or trivial disputes.

Types of Copyright infringement :

A. Primary : Primary infringement refers to the real act of copying the work of the copyright holder. For example, photocopying a book and then distributing it for commercial purposes. 

1.Substantial Taking

A copyright is infringed only when an unauthorized person copies a substantial part of the work. For example, copying a catchy phrase of a lyricist. 

Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. Vs Hamar Television Network Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. 

2011 PTC (45) PTC 70 (Del.)- explained the term ' substantial taking' in detail. Generally the questions of nature and level of infringement are in the discretion of the judge and subsequently on the way the arguments are presented.

2.Casual Connection

The copyright holder must prove that there is a similarity in the works of the copyright holder and the infringer. However, this may be because of several other reasons like both of them have used the same source for the research. In such a case, the copyright holder can not claim for infringement.

B. Secondary

Secondary Infringement refers to the infringement of copyright work without actually copying it. This can happen in the following ways:

1.Providing a place for Copyright Infringement

2.Selling Infringing Copies

3.Distributing Infringing Copies

4.Distributing Infringing Copies

5.Importing Infringing Copies


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