What is a Copiright Registration ?
A copyright protects works of authorship that have been tangibly expressed in a physical form. Example – songs, books, movies, and works of art.
Why we use Copyright Registration ?
Registration of a copyright is important to protect the work from unauthorized use or copying as it is a prima facie evidence to prove the ownership of the work and it also provides the owner of the registered copyright to avail the maximum benefit by licensing, assigning and raising capital.
What Cannot be Registered As A Copyright ?
Ideas, methods, and systems are not covered by copyright protection, this includes making, or building things; scientific or technical methods or discoveries; business operations or procedures; mathematical principles; formulas, algorithms; or any other concept, process, or method of operation.
Flow Chart from filing stage of application till Certificate stage
Landmark Cases - Copyright
1. PINE LABS PVT LTD. v. GEMALTO TERMINALS INDIA (P) LTD, & ORS. 2011(48) PTC248 (Del)
In the absence of the period of assignment or territory of assignment being specified, the assignment is deemed to be for 5 years and territory is deemed to be the territory of India as per section 19(5) and 19(6) of Copyright Act. After the period of 5 years, copyright reverts back to assignor.
2. Tips Industries v Wynk Music
Issue: Whether there exists a statutory licensing scheme under the Copyright Act to online streaming services?
Background: The dispute centers around section 31D of the Copyright Act, 1957 which provides for statutory licensing scheme, as whereby any ‘broadcasting organization’ desirous of ‘communicating to the public’ any sound recording, can obtain a statutory license to do so, provided they pay royalty rates to the copyright owners at rates fixed by the Intellectual Property Law Board.
Facts: Tips Industries Ltd (Plaintiff) is an Indian music label that exercises copyright over a significant music repository that, in 2016, granted Wynk Music Ltd (Defendant) license to access this music repository. At the expiry of the said license both the parties attempted to renegotiate the licensing conditions but failed to do so and hence Wynk took refuge by invoking Section 31D of the Copyright Act. Tips challenged Wynk’s invocation of Section 31D, and prosecuted Wynk pursuant to Section 14(1)(e) for breach of their exclusive rights of sound recording
Judgement: After hearing the contentions of both the parties the Bombay High Court came to a conclusion finding Wynk to be guilty of direct infringement on two counts – 1. To offer the copyrighted work under section 14(1) (e) (ii) which allowed the users to download and listen to the plaintiff’s work offline and 2. Under section 14(1) (e) (iii) for communicating the plaintiff’s works to the users via their streaming service.
In addition to that the Bombay High Court sought this opportunity to clear out the air regarding the ambiguity that existed with respect to online streaming services falling within the scope of Section 31D:
1. Under Section 31D of the Copyright Act, ‘ Download / Purchase ‘ of copyrighted works is not covered.
Wynk Music permitted the users to download and store copyrighted music for unlimited future use which instituted to be a ‘sale’ and not ‘communication made to public’ which constitutes as a ‘broadcast’ for the purposes of Section 31D and hence there exists no claim for statutory license for the use of such copyrighted work by Wynk Music.
2. The application of Section 31D of the Copyright Act does not include Internet broadcasting.
The case of the defendant was based primarily on the presumption that Section 31D covered Internet streaming services under’ radio broadcasting’ as described in a 2016 DPIIT office circular, given that’ radio broadcasting’ included’ internet broadcasting’ under Section 31D.
The Court had an opposing view which resulted in the rejection of the interpretation put forth by the defendant.
The Court found Section 31D to be an exception to copyright which ought to only be strictly interpreted. Upon careful examination of the statutory scheme of 31D and the rules accompanying it, it becomes apparent that statutory licensing was intended to only cover radio and television broadcasting and not internet broadcasting. After examining the history associated with Section 31D, the court derived that,despite the global existence of internet streaming services when the Section was inserted through an Amendment Act of 2012, the legislation even though being aware of it omitted to include internet streaming services from the ambit of Section 31D. In addition to that, the memorandum presented by the defendant does not contain any additional weightage of their claim as a memorandum only acts as ‘guidelines’ and lacks statutory authority and therefore has no influence to the extent of their claim.
The judgement was passed in the favour of the plaintiff and the court held that the plaintiff was entitled to interim injunction, having regard to the reality that they had made a prima facie case, would suffer irreparable harm in the way of lost revenue.
3. Raj Rewal v Union of India &Ors
Issue: Whether an Architect, as the creator and legally the ‘author’ of a structure has a right vested in him to object to such modification or demolition of their work by the owner of the building?
Background: The dispute centres around section 57 of the Copyright Act, 1957 under which the plaintiff has filed for a mandatory injunction to reinstate the building according to the original plans. Section 57 of the Copyright Act, 1957 provides the author with special rights called ‘moral rights’ which subsists with the author of the work over and above economic rights of others.
Facts: The present case talks about one Mr. Raj Rewal who designed and Mr. Mahendra Raj who was the structural designer of the Hall of Nations building. The said building was hailed as an icon of modernist Indian architecture and was erected in the Pragati Maidan grounds in New Delhi. The ITPO in 2016, made a proposal to demolish the Hall of Nations complex in order to build an ‘Integrated Exhibition cum Convention Centre’. Despite of several attempts made by the Plaintiff to protect the building from demolition it resulted in what ITPO desired. Post demolition of the building the Plaintiff instituted a suit against the actions of ITPO by claiming that the actions of demolition had derogated the Plaintiff’s special rights under Section 57.
Judgement: Rejecting the plaintiff’s claims the Court framed the issue as a conflict of two different rights, namely – the architect’s rights under Section 57, and the landowner’s rights to practice acts pertaining to their property.
The court observed that the plaintiff in this case cannot be allowed to prevent the demolition of the building by the defendant as it would in turn amount to restriction of the defendant’s right to practice their control over their property and land which is provided to them under Article 300A which is a constitutional right which prevails over the statutory rights of the plaintiff which they claim to exist under Section 57 of Copyright Act, 1957.
The court further states that the author’s right under Section 57 to prohibit ‘distortion, mutilation or modification’ of his work does not permit an author to prevent complete destruction of their work since “that what cannot be viewed, seen, heard or felt, cannot be imperfect and cannot affect the honour or reputation of the author.” Therefore, the extent to which the right vested in the architect extents to is to prevent the building owner to refrain from making changes in the design made by the architect and passing it off as if the design was made by the architect. The Court in furtherance to that also relied upon Section 52(1)(x) which acts as an exception to copyright of the architect. The court reasoned that the ‘reconstruction’ envisaged under Section 52(1)(x) could only take place if the building had already been demolished. Noting that the Copyright Act must be read harmoniously, the court therefore stated that Section 57 could not reasonably contemplate the right to object to the demolition of a building.
In conclusion the court dismissed the suit due to lack of cause of action against the demolition of the Hall of Nations.
4. YRF v Sri Sai Ganesh Productions
Issue: Whether copyright can subsist in a cinematography film independent of the underlying works that it is comprised of? 2. Whether the expression under section 14 to ‘make a copy of the film’ mean making physical copy of the film only? And between the two films is there a substantial and material similarity?
Facts: A copyright infringement suit was filed against Sri Sai Ganesh Productions &Ors by Yash Raj Films Pvt Ltd on the grounds that it blatantly copied the movie Band Baja Baarat produced under the YRF banner and producing Jabardasht which showcased substantial and material similarities in terms of theme, concept, plot, character, sketches, story, script, form and expression amongst other things.
The court while determining the first issue relied on the judgement handed down by the Delhi High Court in the case of MRF Limited v. Metro Tyres Ltd, in which the court held that copyright exists in the ‘cinematographic film’ independent from other underlying works that come together to constitute it and that there is a requirement of originality to exist in ‘cinematographic films’ which can be read into from Section 13(1)(b) of the Copyright Act, 1957 through Sections 13(3)(a) and 2(d) of the said Act even though it has not been explicitly mentioned.
The court while determining the second issue held that the expression ‘to make a copy of the film’ provided in Section 14(d)(i) of the said Act does not simply mean creating a physical copy of the film by process of duplication. Furthermore, as the films are protected just like original works, the court extended the test of originality set out in the case of R.G Anand v. Deluxe Films to distinguish between the two films on the basis of ‘substance, foundation and kernal’ and understand the viewpoint of an average moviegoer as to whether they would have an unmistakable impression that one work was a copy of the other. In the instant case the court found that the defendants had blatantly copied the fundamental, essential and distinctive features of the plaintiff’s film.
4. UTV Software Communication Ltd., v.1337X.TO and Ors
Issue: How should the Court deal with the hydra headed ‘Rogue Websites’ which on being blocked, eventually multiply and resurface as redirect or mirror or alphanumeric websites?
Facts: UTV Software Communications Ltd (Plaintiff)., is one such company which is engaged in creating content, producing and distributing cinematographic content around the world. The plaintiff has brought a suit against thirty identified websites, multiple John Doe defendants, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Dept of Telecom and various ISPs. The contention of the plaintiff was based on the fact that the defendant websites host and provide access to their copyrighted content which infringes their rights derived from the Copyright Act, 1957. The plaintiffs provided access to a sample of such infringing content as evidence that the websites were primarily engaging in online piracy. Majority of the websites did not respond to the summons presumably since they were hosted outside of India and due to that an amicus curia was appointed in their place as the issue was pertaining to be a question of law of general public importance.
Judgement: The most notable contribution this case made was that it introduced a new procedure to extend website blocking injunctions beyond those specified in the court order but also to those websites which are ‘mirror/alphanumeric/redirect’ websites created after the injunction order was already passed by the court. This extension was termed as ‘dynamic injunction’. Singapore High Court’s decision in Disney v M1 was referred by the High Court of Delhi while deciding on the issue where their court introduced the concept of ‘dynamic injunction’ whereby a plaintiff could file an additional affidavit stating to the court why a new website fell within the purview of an existing blocking order, and forwarding the same to an ISP, which could dispute the merits of the blocking order. This process would provide to be helpful in curtailing piracy by such ‘Rogue Websites’ and reduce the burden on the copyright owners to go through the tough route of litigation over and again.