This article has been written by Rahul Sinha pursuing a Diploma in US Intellectual Property Law and Paralegal Studies course from LawSikho and edited by Shashwat Kaushik.

This article has been published by Shashwat Kaushik.

Table of Contents

Definition of intellectual property rights

IPR refers to a bundle of legal rights that are conferred on either the individual or an entity that creates something intellectual, allowing it sole control of its use as well as commercial exploitation thereof. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations also states that “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”. Thus, it emphasises the significance of intellectual property rights.

Download Now

Different components of IPR

The different components of IPR are:

  • Copyright
  • Patent
  • Trademarks
  • Trade Secrets
  • Industrial Secrets
  • Geographical Indications
  • Plant Variety Protection 
  • Database Rights
  • Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits

Copyright, its essentials, and its importance

One of the vital constituents of IPR, as mentioned above, is copyright. However, the Copyright Act of 1957 is an umbrella that oversees this legislation in India. The term ‘copyright’ refers to certain rights on original literary, artistic, or creative works granted to creators only concerning their use and distribution. Under Section 13 of the Act, copyright exists in original literary, dramatic, musical, cinematography, sound recording, and artworks, all of which are exclusively protected.

Section 14 of the Copyright Act of 1957 safeguards the intellectual property rights of an author’s created literary, artistic, and creative works to protect the author and encourage the production of such works. This kind of protection ensures not only profitable results but also encourages creativity and cultural development and promotes economic growth as an element of support for creative industries. Section 55(1) of the Copyright Act of  1957 offers civil liabilities for copyright infringements, and Section 63 of the Copyright Act of 1957 outlines criminal sanctions for a violation of copyright laws. Therefore, it should be highly noted that copyright, being the critical basis for IPR, is one of the major pillars in world trade, technology transfer, and the constant spurring of innovativeness in several sectors, serving as a cornerstone in the complex interdependence between personal rights and collective rights.

In India, any work that desires to gain copyright protection must be guided by the stipulations provided under the Copyright Act of 1957. Section 13 of the Act states different classes of subjects that are entitled to enjoy copyright protection: literary, artistic, musical, dramatic works, cinematography film, sound recording, and computer programmes. Nonetheless, Section 17 of the Copyright Act of 1957 states clearly that the author is the first owner, except for the exceptions set out under Section 17 of the Act. Besides, Section 14 of the Act gives unique owners, including reproduction, communication to the general public, and adaptation. The duration of copyright has also been made clear under Section 22 of the Copyright Act, 1957, which generally involves life plus sixty years but depending on the type of work, it can vary. The Act spells out consequences associated with offences committed under it as well as remedies available afterward in Chapter XI of the Copyright Act, 1957. Fair use of copyright material is covered by Section 52 of the same chapter of the Copyright Act. The relevant section also protects the use of copyright material for reasons like research, criticism, and news reporting. Hence, the basics provided under the Copyright Act of 1957 led to a robust framework for copyright protection and a balanced approach towards intellectual property in India.

What is Creative Common Licence (CCL)

Today, we live in a world that calls for an efficient tool for the protection of any IPR, and the Creative Commons licence operates on the contrary in the copyright sphere. However, as opposed to the traditional approach that gives each work exclusive property with regards to copyright, CCL balances out this approach by allowing the original owner/creator to customise their permissions, as they can either allow or deny commercial use of their work. In addition, it is possible to understand that CCL allows the owners of copyrightable work to inform the world about how they wish their work to be shared, used, or built upon.

The unique CCL concept, which is halfway between traditional copyright and personal proprietorship, bridges individuals and joint creation. Based on the assumption that knowledge is a public good, it promotes the sharing of thoughts and remixed content as well as the creation of a worldwide intellectual repository. Section 52 of the Copyright Act of 1957 in India can be regarded as a proviso that grants limited use privileges to the existing copyright laws; similarly, some facets of the CCL are similar in this respect. Despite Section 52 having some exemptions to exclusive rights under copyright, it is not a literal instance of a Creative Commons licence but just a statute allowing the unauthorised use of copyrighted material.

It is notable as well as worth remembering that, at its foundation, the whole idea of CCs was created by the organisation of CCs in the private sector out of choice and voluntariness rather than by legal mandates. There are no specific statutes governing Creative Commons licences in India so the organisation creates and supervises CCL.

Historical development of the copyright law

Role of the printing press

King Richard III allowed the printing press into England, while in 1440, Johann Gutenberg invented it in Germany and it arrived in England in 1483. Thereafter, as King Richard III lifted the prohibition on the import of manuscripts and books, a pathway opened up for these authors; hence, Great Britain became the major hub of printing, not only in the UK but throughout Europe.

Nonetheless, it is imperative to note that, upon accession of the system of privilege in 1529 under the rule of King Henry VIII, the crown was able to secure a monopoly on the printing business. The development of this institution resulted in the creation of the Stationer’s Guild, bringing together people engaged in manuscript writing and copying. Eventually, the guild became a company whose members enjoyed the privilege of re-printing the work throughout the ages without any other person being allowed to publish it.

After King Henry had forbidden imports of books and paper-ware in 1553, with a view to boosting local publishers and printers, the Stationers Company got the royal charter from Queen Mary I, who bestowed on it the right of control over publishing. Under Queen Mary I’s Charter, only the Stationers’ Guild representatives were allowed to publish books and control the book trade. The Queen made an exclusive grant to the company, which gave it considerable power over the publishing of books in England.

Through this royal charter, the Stationers’ Company tried to shield their membership and keep everything in order within the book market. Consequently, the demand for tighter control resulted in the passage of two acts, namely, the Licencing Act of 1661 and that of 1662.

Licencing Act of 1661

One of the landmark moments in regulating the print and publishing industries was during the reign of Charles II, when the Licencing Act of 1661 was enacted. This Act gave the company exclusive rights to printing and thus cemented its control over the publication industry. The stationary company also received the only permission for authorization and censorship of everything that was printed. Hence, one could rightly argue that its purpose was to curb unrestrained printing of sedition-able writings and put up a mechanism to monitor what got printed to make sure it wasn’t illegal printouts, hence expanding the role of the stationer and paving the way towards more censorship.

Licencing Act of 1662

Another step taken towards tightening the stranglehold on the stationery over print and publishable material was through the Licence Act of 1662, which made it possible for the stationery to determine what could be considered legal or not. There was tighter censorship in this Act, as well as enhanced control over the information reaching the open source community.

Nevertheless, some fruits were born out of the two acts, among them forcing authors to seek a licence from the stationers ‘company before printing their works and formalising authors’ contributions to creation. The idea that authors should have rights to their books resulted from the procedure of registering with the Stationers’ Company and the arrival on the scene of a structured publishing industry. A paradigm shift from a licence system to acknowledgment that creative works are valuable sparked the transition to statutory copyright, which eventually led to a complete legal framework for the intellectual property protection of authors.

Statute of Anne, 1710

The Statute of Anne, adopted in 1710, has special importance within the historical development of the Copyright Law. However, this statute is significant as it represents the first limited copyright term of 14 years with an option of renewal for 14 years more if the writer lives during the initial period. As such, it offered a new angle to the prior belief that artists do not deserve to be recognised for their creative productions.

Nevertheless, the Statute of Anne had more role than just establishing a rule that recognised the power of authors and gave birth to numerous such provisions in copyright laws across the globe. It is, therefore, this principle that came up with, such as the limited terms or authorial rights, and thus developed several constitutional provisions and international agreements.

Copyright Act of 1911

The legislative enactment of the Copyright Act in India unified and transformed the system regulating copyright. It was instituted during the British colonial period and superseded others, covering many categories including literature, music, visual artwork, etc. Moreover, it added a term of fifty-year protection afterlife, protected unreleased content, did not require registration, and developed short enforcement procedures. Recognising authorship entitlements was an important step forward, culminating with the passage of the Copyright Act of 1911. This was a starting point and opened the door for other milestones in the development of Indian copyright law according to worldwide practice.

Evolution of copyright law in India


The copyright law in India has been in existence since colonial times, when the East India Company enacted its first copyright legislation in 1847. Earlier legislation was merely a reflection of existing legal tendencies, mimicking the English laws of the time. For example, the act sets the duration of copyright as an author’s life plus 7 years, which is approximately 42 years. The state was also authorised to authorise retroactive grants of publishing licences in cases where the copyright holder refused to consent. All copyright suits were in the jurisdiction of the highest local civil courts at the top levels. Initially, this led to a new copyright framework, which was later replaced by the 1914 Copyright Act. However, in the year of 1914, the modern copyright law was mentioned as not existing in the Indian context This Act followed the 1911 English Act and served to facilitate communication among literary pieces in the British colonies. It also expanded the scope of copyright beyond images and music into all other forms of art like literature, drama, and others.


This process began after India gained its independence in 1947 when it promulgated new legislation in 1957, which replaced the pre-independence Act of 1911. Indeed, it came into force on January 19 The trademark law restored a lot of the features that were in the copyright, including most. For this reason, it developed a copyright desk under the Registrar of Copyright to facilitate the registration of books and all other kinds of creative work. Additionally, it had set up a copyright board that handled similar copyright cases.

This demonstrated that the post-independence legislature aimed at rebranding the copyright law, making it responsive to contemporary cultural affairs and technology. Through this, the copyright office and board demonstrated landmarks in building steadier and faster reactions to Indian copyright issues.

Nature and scope of copyright law


Essentially, copyright is a collection of statutes created to preserve the intellectual output produced by man. Once an original work is created and stored in any physical form, including writings, music, art, and software, it gets an automatic right to arise immediately. On the other hand, copyright is exclusive in all rights reserved aspects, as it includes the owner’s legal authority for reproduction, publication, public performance/display, derivative work, and adaptation, among other rights arising from the original works. This exclusivity ensures recognition and payment due to artistic efforts, as well as limited ownership terms. This means other people can only borrow protected work with its clearance under “all rights reserved.” It stems from having sufficient stimulus for art production within a creative author interest setting.


Copyright scope identifies the extensive reach of protection and the limits associated with it. Copyright is an umbrella term that covers various creative inventions, including literature, music, artworks, and computer programmes, among others. Copyright protection usually lasts seventy years after the life of the original creator and thus enables lifetime ownership of works of art by artists and their next of kin. Copyright is a natural right but not necessarily absolute; some restrictions, including fair use, allow one to use copyright materials for purposes such as criticism, review, teaching, or research. It additionally covers protection for both published and unpublished work. Despite the progress of the digital era, this situation stirs debates on balancing the interests of right holders with the public right to information and creativity. Therefore, copyright refers to a fluid notion that depends on the prevailing technological trends, culture, and international movement of creative thoughts.

Objectives of the copyright law

In essence, while the subject of copyright law changes time after time in response to the societal needs of each country, the main underlying objectives that brought about the emergence and subsequent evolution of copyright law are timeless and cannot be altered. These basic principles, in the form of their objectives, can be understood in the following of the following:

Promoting creative expression and compensation

Copyright law gives an author the right to use his or her work to promote science and useful arts. This primary role is aimed at giving incentives to artists, including writers, composers, painters, designers, producers, and so forth, for providing their works.

Balancing rights and expansion of knowledge

The principle underlying this law is meant to achieve a balance. This is done by safeguarding the copyright expressions of the developers on one hand, while at the same time ensuring that anyone can freely build on or draw ideas from a particular work. Copyright protects one’s work from being copied by allowing others to build on the knowledge and ideas within one’s work.

Harmony between copyright owners and public welfare

In the Copyright Act of 1957, there is a need to achieve a compromise between a copyright holder’s interests and those of the public. It recognises the significance of the doctrine of fair use and incorporates provisions that protect the interests of both copyright owners and the public at large.

Other important objectives enshrined in the Copyright Act, 1957

It is also necessary to mention some of the other important objectives contained in the Copyright Act, 1957, apart from those that have been mentioned earlier. They comprise the promotion of creators’ rights such as copyright for musical, literary, and artistic works, and film; also, this sector involves the protection of various forms of creators’ rights such as copyright for musical, literary, and artistic works, and cinematic film; also, this sector involves the protection of intellectual property through this legal structure as well as encouraging creativity in both the creators and the members of the public.

The above-discussed objectives were also highlighted by the Madras High Court in the Case of Sulamangalam R. Jayalakshmi And … vs. Meta Musicals And Ors. (2000), wherein the Court, while discussing the objectives of the Copyright Law, said that “copyright law is to preserve the fruits of a man’s effort, labour, talent, or test from annexation by other persons.”

Contemporary trends in copyright legislation

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence in the creative domain signifies a new development that confronts established copyright principles. Today, AI algorithms can independently create different artistic outputs, including music, paintings, literary literature, etc. Although this innovation is revolutionary, it presents tough issues in respect of property rights, authorship, and even the violation of copyrights.

Some of the major difficulties experienced as a consequence of using AI include determining the rights and ownership of AI-generated works. However, traditional copyright laws vest ownership in human authors, leaving a predicament when artificial intelligence algorithms generate material without actual human involvement. Legal disputes are centred on the issue of granting copyright between a human who develops and uses the AI algorithm’s code, AI’s works being in the public domain or a new legal framework that recognises AI works independently.

Moreover, it also creates some apprehensions regarding copyright issues in AI. The originality of copyright works is threatened by AI algorithms, which produce almost indistinguishable content if trained using copyright works. Therefore, determining the degree of similarity threshold for infringement becomes critical because classical copyright law protects original works.

With the increase in these AI works, legal frameworks are being reviewed to keep up with the changes brought along with these works. In some countries, they are considering changes to copyright legislation that will specifically touch upon rights to products created by artificial intelligence and solve the problem of the ownership of such works. Therefore, taking into account the changing environment, there is a need to exercise caution in a multidisciplinary manner by involving legislators, lawyers, technicians, and stakeholders from the creative industry to develop appropriate solutions that preserve the rights of authors concerning AI-generated content under copyright.

Fair use in the digital age

As discussed and provided in Section 52 of the Copyright Act, which provides for a careful line between protecting copyright owners’ rights and fostering creativity and invention, free speech. Fair Use is of great importance in today’s time, as information is easily accessible through the Internet, social media, etc.

Digital space has greatly enhanced the accessibility of information, artworks, and copyrighted materials, enabling people to copy and exchange such content much faster and easier than in the past. Section 52 outlines reasonable practices for fair dealing with literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (except for computer software) towards certain goals, including private use, research, critique, and reviews. The dissemination of information and different innovative ideas is made possible by this allowance.

Parodies, memes, and many other forms of digital content creation have become elements of digital culture. Section 52 is critical since it protects comic and sarcastic users, who are also part of fair use when they change other people’s material.

Moreover, the digital era has seen a dramatic transformation of education as well as research into e-resources. Educators, students, and researchers are provided with a wide range of fair use provisions under Section 52 for using copyrighted materials in online educational settings, realising the transformative role of those activities.

The user-created content on social media is now an expression of creativity. For instance, Section 52 makes it possible for individuals to include other copyright materials in their productions, such as videos and fan art. Nonetheless, this fluid boundary between fair use and copyright infringement online has raised controversies and takedowns, as both copyright holders’ and authors’/users’ rights are equally important yet competing.

Apart from these creative actions, fair use also overlaps with digital conservation. Fair Use permits libraries and museums, as well as various cultural institutions, to continue with digital storage and preservation for purposes of promoting learning and information sharing, allowing people to continue learning more about our heritage and culture.

However, the emergence of the digital era has come with new issues and debates. The ease of replicating as well as sharing digital content raises concern about how the market value of copyrighted work will be affected. In addition, copyright holders state that it is detrimental for fair use to be interpreted in a wide sense because this hinders creators’ opportunities to exploit their works and eventually kills creativity and innovation in the industry. Automated filtering and copyright enforcement on the digital platform can also result in excessive takedowns and false positives that stifle fair use activities. Striking a balance between the rights of copyright holders and those of users and creators continues to be elusive in the ever-changing digital sphere.

Role of digital platforms

Digital technologies, such as social networking sites, video sharing, streaming services, and online selling, have become an essential aspect of day-to-day living. They have changed the way we produce, consume, and disseminate information. The following part discusses how these mediums engage with copyright law.

Content distribution and accessibility

The distribution of content has also been affected by digital platforms and now content creators can deliver their products to a global market. Though such an approach avails opportunities for exposure, content creators face the challenge of IP protection. Effective mechanisms should be put in place for handling and eradicating copyright infringement on platforms.

Copyright enforcement and compliance

Copyright infringement should be addressed by platforms to ensure that copyrighted material is not utilised without proper authority. Technologies, reporting channels, and terms of service are some ways used to avoid infringement. Platforms have potential legal issues around copyright and need to address them appropriately or face legal consequences.

Copyright licencing and revenue sharing

Such agreements are commonplace among digital platforms that operate legitimately, purchasing various kinds of content with a view towards commercialisation and redistribution. Content creators get paid for music or video-on-demand streams through negotiations. Revenue sharing is an arrangement of redistributing earnings between creators, platform providers, and copyright owners.

Safe harbour provisions

Several states have statutory safe harbours exempting digital platforms from direct liability for user-generated copyright violations. The platforms must meet such requirements as notice and notice-based proceedings. The main purpose of this is to try to strike a balance between copyright protection and the need for users’ material.

Copyright education and policy advocacy

Users are educated on copyright laws through digital platforms. They issue guidelines and policy notes to politicians and copyright stakeholders concerning copyright laws.


Despite progress, challenges persist and those are:

  • Scalability: The reason for this is due to the massive volumes of user-generated content that are hard for platforms to effectively identify and address copyright infringement with.
  • Fair use considerations: Fair use of user’s user-generated content can never be easy; it is more than a simple issue of transformative use, market impact, and other such parameters that need to be looked at for determining fair use, and that too with great care.
  • International copyright compliance: While working under strict global jurisdiction, platforms have to deal with different copyright rules applicable in various states.
  • Deepfake and AI-generated content: Deepfake technologies and AI-generated content create threats regarding copyright infringement, thus calling for proper detection and management by such platforms.
  • Impact of international law: Digital copyright is greatly influenced by international law, which is significant because it enables the online distribution of content worldwide. The international law of the internet involves exploring how international law affects copyright protection, enforcement, and harmonisation in the virtual world.
  • International treaties and agreements: Some of the key international treaties, such as the Berne Convention and the WIPO Copyright Treaty, provide minimum standard protection with respect to global copyright protection. They promote joint efforts among countries and set up ways of ensuring compliance and tackling copyright abuse at the international level.
  • Cross-border enforcement challenges:  Copyright enforcement is difficult with a borderless internet. It is tackled by international law through cooperation, information sharing, and cross-border enforcement measures. Examples of such treaties are the WIPO Internet Treaties, which facilitate international cooperation in fighting against digital copyright violations.
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Technological Protection Measures (TPMs): It is also essential to note that international law attaches much significance to DRM as well as TMP to safeguard digital copyrighted works. For example, the WIPO Copyright Treaty articulates international standards on these techniques, seeking a balance between the needs of copyright holders and those of users and consumers.
  • Territoriality and geoblocking: Digital copyright has posed concerns over the territorial issue and geo-blocking that limits access based on location. Discussions about territorial rights, licensing, and international content availability are affected by international law and treaties. Striking a balance between the interests of copyright holders, distributors and the global user base presents challenges.
  • International copyright exceptions and limitations: Copyright protection has its importance but international laws recognise exceptions and limitations to be used in cases such as education and research. The WIPO Copyright Treaty and TRIPS afford countries the freedom to define specific exceptions that may be culturally, educationally, or socially necessary.
  • Harmonisation efforts: The main objective of international law is to achieve uniformity concerning rules and procedures that define copyright protection as well as enforcement worldwide. It also helps in promoting uniformity, leading to a reduction of legal issues and enhancing international trade and collaboration. Organisations like WIPO contribute significantly to these harmonisation efforts through discussions, research, and guideline development.

Drawbacks of the Copyright Act

Any legal framework in itself has certain weak points, as is the case with the Copyright Act. Some of the notable lacunae in the Copyright Act include:

  • Technological challenges: In modern times, evolution is taking place faster than existing copyright laws. Perhaps the Copyright Act cannot be relied upon to address issues such as online piracy, digital rights management, and the protection of digital content in the future.
  • Globalisation and cross-border issues: Copyright infringements happen mainly over borders and it’s hard to maintain these laws because of the international nature of the Internet. However, it may not go as far as to address issues in international copyright concerning synchronising copyright laws across various legal forums.
  • Ambiguity in the fair use doctrine: However, fair use cannot be underestimated in balancing between copyright protection and free speech that might become subjective. In this light, fast-developing digital information and content development can be made clearer by defining specific rules for fast-developing digital information and content development as a fair use.
  • Duration of copyright protection: Such actions have led to discussions about the period of protected copyright, which is different from various types of works. Such proponents would argue that despite the already long terms provided, their duration might still be too limiting for access to works by the public in the general domain and their subsequent creative uses.
  • Challenges in enforcement: However, it gives rise to certain practical problems with copyright enforcement, particularly on the Internet. Other amendments that are needed in this act include dealing with the crime of border infringement, naming the offenders and punishing them accordingly, as well as the role of the internet service providers under the circumstances of copyright enforcement.
  • User-generated content and remix culture: The copyright protection vs. artistic liberty debate becomes more complicated in an environment characterised by a free flow of user-generated content that gets remixed into new artistic works. Nevertheless, the act may require modification in order to conform itself to the advancements in making and sharing content online.
  • Orphan works: These other problems involve orphans whose authors cannot be found or traced. For orphan works, such provisions should, however, be clear and give some degree of balance to the needs of the works’ users as well as the prospective but not traceable owners.
  • Access for persons with disabilities: It is now vital to make copyrighted work available to disabled people. It should be noted that in this case, it is necessary to consider how to resolve a conflict between people who are disabled and copyright owners.

History and origin of Creative Common Licences (CCL)

CC was proposed because it turned out that old, rigorous copyright rules are not compatible with modern technologies anymore. Creative Commons emerged due to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), which extended the copyright term by an extra twenty years. Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law Professor, found this law unconstitutional as it conflicted with the constitutional purpose of copyright: providing creative rights as well as creating limited monopolies for authors.
Lessig became the counsel for Eric Eldred (Eldred vs. Aschecroft (2003)), a website publisher, who challenged the Act on the grounds of unconstitutionality. Ultimately, he succeeded, albeit in the US Supreme Court. At an ironic point in time, however, the CTEA (or the Microbabies Protection Act) was enacted, which extended copyright terms to such an extent that Steamboat Willie was about to enter the public domain.

Taking into account Eldred’s targets—freedom of access to the works created on the Internet and having a powerful community of content providers—in 2001, Lessig, along with others, started the Creative Commons project. However, in 2002, Creative Commons licences were designed for public distribution and use at no cost. These are free and public licences as opposed to the ‘all rights reserved’ regime, whose users only enjoy the benefits and ignore obligations, as it has become common for those who wish to share their These CC licences, which are internationally compatible, give creators the power to let their creative works be spread under copyright rules.

The issue was global in scope, and the intent of Creative Commons was precisely to address international rather than just American copyright obstacles. The trailblazers realised that a looser and more flexible framework had to be established for the communication of communal intellectualism in a modernised society. Currently, millions of creators worldwide use Creative Commons licences to create a more free approach to information sharing.

Creative Common Licence in India

The presence of free information and ready-to-utilise quality knowledge is critical for development in India; CC is making significant contributions under such circumstances. It is also a must to emphasise that several entities, including Wikimedia India, Acharya Narendra Dev College, and The Centre for Internet & Society, are engaged in various elements of CC licences in India. There was an important milestone for CC-India that took place in 2013. It was at this time that the Government of India released materials produced by NCERT under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 licence, thereby enabling users to adapt.

However, students, as consumers of information, unlike most people, are yet to understand what CC licences entail. There is a rampant accessibility of content over the Internet, which has promoted a situation known as “remix culture,” in which people make and recycle huge amounts of materials. However, copyright laws limit the use of already existing material; thus, creativity is restricted for lay creators. This is where creative commons come in by offering different licensees under the “some rights reserved” principle, which allows creators to specify particular conditions (attribution, share-alike, non-commercial, and no derivative).

Therefore, in India, where monopolisation is generally looked down upon, Creative Commons could be an appropriate alternative. In 2007, Creative Commons was launched in India by IIT Bombay. It was relaunched in 2013 together with the CIS (Centre for Internet and Society), Wikimedia India, and Acharya Narendra Dev College. Despite their problems, there are works in India, such as films and music videos, that come with Creative Commons licences. This is an indication of an emerging culture of openness and shared ownership. Moreover, the relaunch of Creative Commons India in 2013 points out the likelihood of creating a knowledge resource-sharing culture in the country.

Nature and scope of the Creative Common Licence (CCL)


The idea behind CCL is to allow a flexible and universally recognised approach concerning granting permission over creations. These licences ensure one of the basic principles of copyright, which is that a licensor shows the use of his work by others with some flexibility. These licences are relatively lenient and give creators varying degrees of freedom. Anyone can understand, simplify, or use any of the given licences’ terms.
In line with this, the core of CCL lies in seeking a fine line between accessibility and restraints. Striking balance between these two sides, i.e., safeguarding authors’ right to own their work and having it widely reproduced and consumed by the public. The copyright licences cover topics such as credit, commercial use, sharing, and the granting or forbidding of adaptations. Therefore, CCL generates worldwide open action, transparency, cooperation, and sharing.


CCL covers a broad spectrum of creative works, including books, paintings, songs, and films. These licences offer a simple, universal framework with which authors may specify the terms under which they allow others to appropriate their products, creating a worldwide culture that values both reciprocity and cooperation. In the different spheres of education, art, science, and online content, the creators can specify their conditions of usage and add to a shared, connected world. This makes their approach to copyright user-friendly, clear, and very adaptive for the modern creative environment.

Types of Creative Common Licence (CCL)

Different types of CCL cater to varying degrees of openness regarding the dissemination of creative works and permission for others to share or remix such works. The six main types of CCL provide a spectrum of choices:

  • CC BY 4.0 (Attribution): It has the lowest restriction level, enabling others to share, edit, make improvements, and construct new works upon it all within conditions of attribution and commercial use.
  • CC BY-SA 4.0 (Attribution-ShareAlike): Like the first licence, it allows the remodelling, editing, and development of the work into other versions to sell the products; however, every subsequent version must carry the same licence.
  • CC BY-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivs): The type of this licence is CC BY-NC-ND, which means that redistribution, including commercial and non-commercial, is allowed under the condition of passing the work unmodified and as a whole regarding the original author.
  • CC BY-NC 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial): The latter grants permission for others to remix, tweak, or make improvements in the work while remaining non-commercial with other new works.
  • CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike): Similar to the above licence, except that all new works must be licenced under the same terms.
  • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs): The third one is restrictive and it allows users to download works and share them with others where they should acknowledge their source; however, they cannot alter the works nor use them for commercial purposes.

Advantages and disadvantages of Creative Common Licence (CCL)


The advantages of CCL are:

  • Increases visibility and collaboration: The platform boosts the presence of your work since it is publically available on the internet, enables others to copy or download your work for free, and thus shares it with numerous parties, hence boosting collaborations. Doing so will ensure that people will be keen on publicising, sharing, and building upon your work within those boundaries, giving due credit.
  • Encourages sharing and innovation: CCL especially helps in the growth and development of works that are in the public interest because it allows for additions, changes, and improvements to earlier content by other people. For example, this is very beneficial to open-source code, medical discoveries, academic research, and so on, whose development thrives on collaboration.
  • Retains copyright ownership: Consequently, CCL lets you keep your copyright and outlines the terms under which you can share, sell, or modify your work. This will give a system of use for your work to other people.
  • Ensures proper attribution: The Creative Common licence mandates that users of your work give you appropriate credit as the original creator. These attributions are not just about saving your image; they also help you build a network of mutual support and respect among artists in general.


The disadvantages of CCL are:

  • Irrevocable licence: After a Creative Commons licence is issued, it may not be revoked. However, you don’t have the right to revoke this licence for future usage. The previous users will still use the licence under the initial conditions.
  • Free usage of your work: However, when you are using a Creative Commons licence, you allow your work to be used without paying anything. Your work can be used by users without a licence fee. Besides, you also cannot claim compensation if someone makes money using your work, except in the case of a non-commercial licence.
  • Ambiguity with derivative works: The copyright status of a derivative work may be unclear as well. However, if somebody comes up with a modification of your first work and this new one differs from the original, the question will arise as to the compliance of an original CC licence. This may cause conflict over who owns or should own the new production, as well as other related intellectual property rights issues.

Relevant case laws concerning Creative Commons Licence (CCL)

Jacobsen vs. Katzer (2008)

Background: In this case, Jacobsen published software distributed under an Attribution-Share Alike Creative Commons licence. Katzer failed to follow the terms of the licence while using the software.

Outcome: Jacobsen won the case and the legal enforcement of Creative Commons licences was confirmed. It stated that a breach of such licence agreements could result in copyright infringement suits.

Great Minds vs. Office Depot, Inc. (2018)

Background: In this case, the Great Minds non-profit published their educational material using a Creative Common attribution – noncommercial – share alike licence (CC BY – NC – SA). Office Depot copied them without permission, charged for them and sold them outside of licence terms.

Outcome: The court stated that the acts of Office Depot were copyright infringements. This implies that failure to follow the CCLT can constitute copyright infringement against a creator.

Artifex Software, Inc. vs. Hancom, Inc. (2017):

Background: In this case, Artifex sued Hancom for copyright infringement, claiming that Hancom had violated the CC licences.

Outcome: Courts ruled that Hancom had infringed upon a copyright, thereby underscoring the need to adhere to the requirements set out in Creative Commons licences.

Overall implications

Together, these case laws highlight the enforceability and importance of Creative Commons licences (CCL) within the domain of copyright law. However, courts continue to uphold the validity of CCL terms, ordering infringers to pay damages as they have been found guilty of breaching agreements. The above cases demonstrate why users and entities must stick to what is spelled out in Creative Commons licences so as not to contravene copyright laws. These decisions state how serious CCL is and its meaning to have an appropriate and legal atmosphere where people will understand, accept, and follow those conditions included within the Creative Common Licence.

Creative Common Licence (CCL) vs Copyright 

In navigating the vast landscape of digital content, two pivotal frameworks shape the rights and permissions associated with creative works: Creative Commons Licences (CCL) and Copyright. While both are guardians of creators’ intellectual property, they embody distinct approaches. Creative Commons, denoted as “CC,” serves as a standardised identity system within existing copyright laws. In contrast, copyright bestows exclusive rights automatically upon a work’s creation. Delving deeper, let’s explore the nuanced differences between these two systems.


Creative Commons Licence (CCL): Public licences allow creators to tailor rights granted to the public, offering a spectrum from liberal to restrictive permissions.

Copyright: A legal right automatically granted to creators upon the creation of an original work, providing exclusivity over its use and distribution.


CCL: Geared towards granting authors and artists flexibility to share their work while retaining control over its usage.

Copyright: Aims to empower creators with control over their intellectual property, deciding who can use, share, or modify their work.


CCL: Duration aligns with the underlying copyright, mirroring its length.

Copyright: Typically lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, contingent on jurisdiction and work type.

Rights granted

CCL: Varies based on the chosen Creative Commons identity, from open use with attribution to more restrictive licences.

Copyright: Grants exclusive rights like reproduction, distribution, and performance, necessitating permission from the copyright holder.

Main objective

CCL: Focused on fostering sharing, collaboration, and creative reuse while enabling creators to retain specific rights.

Copyright: Aimed at safeguarding creators against unauthorised use, ensuring control over the distribution and use of their work, often for monetization.


The intricate world of copyright is where the Creative Commons licence (CCL) intersects with creativity, sharing, and innovation. Copyright is a sturdy legal protection that automatically gives creators exclusive rights to the works that they create. Nevertheless, Creative Commons presents another option of varying permissions for the creators to choose how their works should be distributed and used.

There has always been a tension between copyright owners’ rights and the demands of the digital age for accessibility and collaboration in the background story. Particularly in the digital era, where disputes and challenges exist from digital parodies down to e-learning and user-generated content on social networks, fair use doctrines try to find balance.

A landmark event in copyright history, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act sparked an important origin story for Creative Commons. In the year 2002, this legislation prompted a movement led by Lawrence Lessig and gave rise to Creative Commons. Creative Commons provides revolutionary licences that have made it possible for creators across the globe to share works with certain terms set, fostering a culture of collaboration and transparency in the process.

Six variations of Creative Commons licences define its nature and scope, enabling varying degrees of openness. They have diverse functions, including free copies (CC BY), non-commercial, and no derivative works (CC BY-NC-ND).

It is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks associated with Creative Commons. Although it increases visibility and promotes sharing, it also has its downside – it is an irrevocable licence; anyone can use your work freely. There are notable cases like Jacobsen vs. Katzer that prove the validity of CC licences, underscoring the significance of complying with the established conditions.

Creative Commons plays an important function in promoting free access to knowledge in India. Examples of such initiatives include, for instance, the National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER).

There is a basic distinction in the approaches adopted in comparing Creative Commons with copyright. The concept of “some rights reserved” is fundamental to Creative Commons in contradistinction to Copyright’s ethos of “all rights reserved,” which has fostered a culture of open sharing and collaborative efforts. The existing partnership between Copyright and Creative Commons illustrates changes in intellectual property theory to adapt to the evolving digital environment. Understanding both of these systems is crucial not only for creators but also for consumers as well as the entire society, as it helps strike a perfect balance in the world of creativity about the protection and accessibility of creative works.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here