Princee Dhawan, Amity Chhattisgarh

Priya Gupta, NLU Nagpur

Kanika Jaiswal, KLE Bengaluru

Editor: Akansha Singh, NLU Lucknow


Copyright refers to the bundle of rights given by the law to the creators of literacy, artistic works, dramatic, musical, and the procedures of cinematograph films and sound recordings. The rights provided under copyright law include the rights of reproduction of the work, communication of the work to the public, an adaptation of work, and transportation of work. The scope and duration of protection provided under copyright laws vary with the nature of protected work. Copyright has come to limelight due to the growing interest in the topic owing to the progress in Information Technology, advancement in the fields of digital printing, communication, and Entertainment. Technological progress has made the reproduction of copyright material easy, but at the same time piracy of original work also has grown immensely. For the protection of copyright, many countries have formed conventions as it is international in nature. The Berne Convention and Universal Copyright Conventions are due to that effort. Most countries including India are members of these conventions. Therefore, Indian Copyright owners can protect their ownership of copyright internationally.


The evolution of copyright law in India is spread over three phases. The first phase involves the introduction of copyright law in India during the reign of British rule in India in 1911. The second phase was in 1914 when the Indian legislatures under the British raj enacted the copyright act of 1914, which was similar to British copyright act of 1911[1] India saw the third phase of its copyright law evolution by the introduction of the Indian copyright act,1957[2]which is similar to the provisions of the Berne Convention.[3]

The evolution of the printing industry has led to the introduction of term copyright. Earlier in the middle ages, there were no restrictions regarding plagiarism, copying text was a common affair, from there the concerns were raised regarding copying by those who created it. “In 1518, the first copyright privilege was granted in England to produce the copies. Later in 1701, the parliaments of England and Scotland were united as a result of the Anglo-Scottish Union. The new parliament was ready to change the laws in both countries and a crucial early piece of legislation was the Copyright Act of 1709, also referred to as the Statute of Anne, after Queen Anne. The act was enacted in 1710 and was the first copyright statute. “English Judgment of 1769, that of Miller V/s Taylor Holding the rights of the author under copyright to be in common law based upon the concept of Justice, Equity and Good Conscience”[4].another issue arise when few of the famous authors were selling their copyright to others or allowing them to publish or print the content in this context again one landmark judgment was given in the case of “ Donaldson Vs. Beckett in 1774, which ruled that at Common Law the author had a sole right of printing and publishing his books, but that once a book was published the right in it were exclusively regulated by the Statute”[5]. The first copyright act came into force in India during the British era in 1847 which gives the exclusive right of their work for 42 years in total and has very outdated rules. Registration of the copyright was mandatory without registration at the home office, the content is open for the public. After independence, India passed another act which is called copyright act 1914 which was just a copy of united kingdom copyright act 1911 and few changes were been made to make it applicable in India and the important inclusion was the criminal charges for infringement and plagiarism and also include the sole right to publish or produce her/his copyrighted publication into a different language or any translation till 10 years further, minor modifications were been made and another amendment came in 1957. “The reasons for various amendments are “Initially, copyrights were confined to the right of multiplying copies; it did not include the performing rights in dramatic or musical works. The rights have expanded providing a composite right for commercial exploitation of the works in this digital era.”[6]Another reason was that India needs a necessary alteration and required independent self-contained laws in copyright due to the growing demand from people and the from authors. The laws need to be amended to fulfill international obligations.

The copyright act of 1957 was brought to effect on 21st January.1958. The first law on copyright enacted by Independent India. The laws were introduced to cope up with the changing time's ex: the establishment of a copyright board and the registrar of copyright[7]. In the meanwhile, India became the signatory to Geneva Convention for Protection of Producers of Phonograms, 1971 on February 12, 1975[8] The first amendment to this act was brought in 1983 in order to give effect to Berne convention. After the establishment of WTO[9]In 1995, India became a member of the TRIPS obligation. It governed the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. To comply with the new signed agreement Copyright: (Amendment) Act, 1999 was passed. This act was then amended in the year 2012 to come in conformity with the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). Three new sections 2(xa). 65A and 65B were introduced which deal with DRM. Major amendments[10] were made to suit the technological advancement. Amendments to right in artistic works, cinematograph films and sound records, WCT and WPT related amendment to provide for commercial rental rights for computer programmers, and amendments on the mode of assignment and license was made.[11]


Indian copyright law is at parity with the international standards as contained in TRIPS. The (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957, pursuant to the amendments in 1999, 2002, and 2012, fully reflects the Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886 and the Universal Copyrights Convention, to which India is a party. India is also a party to the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Rights of Producers of Phonograms and is an active member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

[1] Suvrashish Sarkar, History and Evolution of Copyright in India, Volume 5.PIJR 274,274 (2016). [2] Copyright act,1957. [3] Summary of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, WIPO (1886),(June.2,2020,10:05 am) [4] (1769) 98 E.R. 201. [5] (1774) 98 ER 257. [6]EVOLUTION OF LAW OF COPYRIGHT IN INDIA,(June.2,2020,10:05 am), [7] The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1983 (Act 23 of 1983). [8] Vijay Dalmia, Copyright Law In India- Everything You Must Know, Mondaq (June.2,2020,10:05 am) [9] Vijay Dalmia, Copyright Law In India- Everything You Must Know, Mondaq (June.2,2020,10:05 am) law-in-india-everything-you-must-know. [10] Suvrashish Sarkar, History and Evolution of Copyright in India, Volume 5.PIJR 274,274-280 (2016). [11] Copyright (Amendment) Act of 2012 Section 18, cl .1.

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