What is Copyright?

Copyright is an exclusive right granted to the creator of the of the original work of authorship which includes literary work, artistic work, songs, movies, software etc. These rights include right to reproduce, perform in public, issue copies, sale etc. The primary objective of the copyright is to reward the author for his/her efforts.

Subject matter of Copyright

The Copyright under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, applies to the following classes of work:

  • Original literary, artistic and musical work
  • Sound Recording
  • Cinematographic films
  • Software applications

The main object of Copyright is to bar the unlawful reproduction of the creative and original work of artists, creators, writer, playback singers, programmers etc. Further the copyright subsists:

  • In case of published work if the work is published in India and if the work is published outside India, then the author shall be citizen of India at the time of publication.
  • In case of an unpublished work, the author at the time of making of work shall be citizen of India;
  • In architectural work, the work shall be located in India;


There are several prerequisites which shall be fulfilled for a work to be copyrighted:

  • The work has to be expressed in any permanent form so as to get copyright. An idea per se cannot get a copyright. For an idea to get copyright it must be expressed in some permanent form. For eg. idea that a movie should be made cannot be copyrighted but when the movie is made and the cinematographic work is stored in a CD or DVD, that can be copyrighted.
  • For a creativity to get copyright it must fulfil basic level of originality as required by the Copyright Act. Copying someone’s else work can’t be copyrighted.

Term of Copyright

Term of copyright is different for different kinds of work as follows:

  • In case of published literary, dramatic, musical, artistic work the term is for the lifetime of the author and further 60 from the date of his/her death.
  • In case of sound recording, photograph, cinematographic film, posthumous publication, and pseudonymous publications, work of government or international work is protected for a term of 60 years from the year of publication.

Is it necessary to register copyright in India-

It is not necessary to get registration to get copyright for the original work. An original work automatically gets a copyright as soon as it is published. There is no need to fulfil any formality. However, in case of any dispute related to copyright of the work, the registration certificate helps as evidence to make the case stronger.

Role of Agent/Attorney

Hiring an experienced agent or attorney for the registration of copyright can be beneficial in several manners:

  • An agent can preliminarily advice the client in respect of originality of work which is the essential element to get the copyright.
  • An agent as per the requirement of the client can strategize for the registration process.
  • An agent/attorney can file the application before the Copyright Office.
  • An agent/ attorney can further suggest the client at the time of licensing and assignment of Copyright.
  • An attorney can bring the infringement actions under Civil and Criminal Jurisdictions.

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