In this blogpost, Sudhi Ranjan Bagri, Student, National Law institute University, Bhopal, writes about what is copyright and what are the rights of a copyright owner.


Granting copyright seeks to protect the creative endeavor of an owner. Copyright gives an exclusive right to the owner to do certain acts in relation to literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, cinematography and sound recordings. Copyright is valid till the life of the originator plus 50 years after his death. In the case of cinematographic work, the copyright is valid until 50 years after the work has been made available to the public while for photographic works 25 years after the making of the work.

In India matters related to copyright are governed by the Copyright Act in 1957, which was subsequently amended in the year 1994 and 2002. Copyright cannot be granted in some cases like:

  1. Copyright cannot be said to be violated if the idea or concept of any person is used in a different manner.
  2. Copyright is not granted for ideas.
  3. Copyright is not granted in live events.

So, basically for granting the copyright, the work which is being sought to be protected by copyright must be original. However, this standard of originality to be determined varies in countries. In countries which follow common law jurisdictions like United Kingdom and India, the standard of originality that is needed to be proven is low, while in countries which follow civil law jurisdictions like France and Germany, the standard of originality to be proven is high as certain minimum amount of creativity and author’s intellectual expression is required to be shown to acquire a copyright protection.

Download Now

Indian perspective on copyright protection:

The Copyright Act, 1957 provides copyright protection in India. It confers copyright protection in the following two forms:

(A) Economic rights of the author, and

(B) Moral Rights of the author.

Rights of the copyright owner

Right of Reproduction

This is the most prominent right which is acquired after the copyright protection. This right authorizes the person having such copyright to make copies of the protected work in any form. In the modern context copying, a song on a Compact Device or any sound and visual recording can be considered as a reproduction of the content. Prior to copying the permission of the author is required unless it can be shown that such copying is not intended to make any commercial benefits out of it.

Right to Distribute

Right to distribute is an off-shoot of the right of reproduction. The person who owns the copyright owner may distribute his work in any manner he deems fit. The owner is also entitled to transfer the whole or some rights in favor of any other person while retaining others. For example, he can entitle any person to translate his work.

Right to make Derivative Works

The copyright has the right to use his work in various ways, for instance making adaptations or translations. One example of adaptation is making a movie based on a novel, so here to make any derivative work the consent of the owner is mandatorily required. In these situations, certain other rights of the owner also come into play, like the right to integrity which protects the owner against deformation, defacement or modification of his work in a way that it is harmful for his reputation.

Right to Publicly Perform

The owner of the copyright has the right to publicly perform his works. Example, he may perform dramas based on his work or may perform at concerts, etc. This also includes the right of the owner to broadcast his work. This includes the right of the owner to make his work accessible to the public on the internet. This empowers the owner to decide the terms and conditions to access his work.

Right to Follow

This right is granted generally only to the authors and artists. This empowers the authors to obtain a percentage of the subsequent sales of his work and is called Droit de Suite or Right to Follow. The right is also available to artists on resale of their work.

Right of Paternity

The Right of Paternity or Attribution gives the copyright owner a right to claim authorship of the work. Under the Right of Paternity a copyright owner can claim due credit for any of his works. Thus, if a movie is produced based on a book by an author, and he hasn’t been given due credit in it, he can sue the makers to acknowledge his work.

Sui Generis Rights

The ordinary copyright law often fails to protect the computer software and databases since the essential element of creativity is not present in such databases. Therefore, there was a need for new law to protect such software and databases. The law of sui generis was introduced to resolve the problem of resolving databases on the whole. A database is a compilation or arrangement of information which may not be creative; it may still require protection from unauthorized copying. However, this may require certain modifications such as the making of copies has to be excluded from such copyright protection. Such database right exists for a fifteen year period.

Private Copying

This is an exception to the reproduction rights which are attained by the owner. According to this right, any person can make copies of the copyright protected work if it is proved that such copying is for educational purpose and that there is no commercial motive behind such copies being made.


In conclusion is maybe said that copyright law adequately protects the rights of the copyright owners. The law has kept pace with the changing times and has accommodated a number of new things in its ambit, including digital reproduction and sui generis rights. India has also risen up to the challenge and updated its copyright law from time to time.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here