Copyrights are governed by the provisions of the Copyright Act of 1957, which has been updated from time to time to keep up with technological advancements. The Copyright is the right of a work’s owner to regulate how the work is used and profit financially from its exploitation. In the form of literary (including compilation and software), dramatic, musical, artistic, cinematograph films, and sound recording, such work is a creation of human intelligence.

The Indian copyright law is in line with international copyright norms outlined in TRIPS. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886, and the Universal Copyrights Convention, to which India is a party, are fully reflected in the (Indian) Copyright Act, 1957, as amended in 1999, 2002, and 2012. India is also a signatory to the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers’ Rights in Phonograms and a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

A painting, a sculpture, a drawing (including a diagram, a map, a chart, or a plan), an engraving, a photograph, a work of architecture or artistic craftsmanship, dramatic work, literary work (including computer programmes, tables, compilations, and computer databases), musical work (including music as well as graphical notations), sound recording, and cinematographic film are all considered “works” under the Copyright Act of 1957. The Copyright Act, 1957, has updated India’s copyright legislation in step with changes in the information technology business, whether in the sphere of satellite broadcasting, computer software, or digital technology, to keep up with the global demand for harmonisation. The modified law also includes safeguards to protect performers’ rights, as outlined in the Rome Convention.

In India, copyright registration is not mandatory because it is regarded as merely a record of a fact. The registration does not provide or create any new rights, and it is not required to take legal action against infringers. The Indian courts have backed this viewpoint in a series of rulings. In India, enforcement agencies have low awareness of intellectual property (IP) laws, and most IP litigation takes place in major cities. Even though copyright registration is not required in India and is protected by the International Copyright Order, 1999, it is recommended that Copyright be registered because the copyright registration certificate is accepted as “proof of ownership” in courts and by police authorities and is acted upon smoothly by them.

The Copyright Office’s Functions:

Section 9(1) of the Copyright Act of 1957 established the Copyright Office in 1958. The Registrar of Copyrights possesses quasi-judicial powers in matters involving copyrights, and the Copyright Office is primarily responsible for copyright registration. The Copyright Office’s Register of Copyrights makes information about works registered under the Copyright Act, 1957, available to the general public. The Copyright Office also provides services such as inspection of the Register of Copyrights, changes to particulars, extracts from the Register, and administration of Copyright Societies.

The Copyright exists in the following classes of works, as defined by section 13 of the Copyright Act of 1957:

(i) Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works;

(ii) Cinematographic films; and

(iii) Sound Recording.

Copyright is automatically acquired and does not require any formality. The Copyright exists as soon as a work is created, and there are no formalities to complete to obtain the Copyright. A certificate of registration of Copyright and the entries made therein, on the other hand, serve as prima facie evidence in a Court of Law in relation to a dispute over copyright ownership.

Copyright Ownership: The copyright law grants exclusive rights, although for a limited time. Any use of a work without the owner’s consent or licence may be considered a copyright violation. (The Copyright Act specifies certain limitations and exceptions.) The legislation also stipulates that the work should be freely accessible to the general public once exclusive rights have expired.

Following are the Copyright Societies registered in India:

  • Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) – For musical and literary works associated with such musical work.
  • Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO) – For photocopy works.
  • Indian Singers Rights Association (ISRA) – For Performers Rights of singers and other activities ancillary thereto.

International Treaties/Conventions/Agreements:

India joined the following International Conventions on Copyright and Neighbouring (Related) Rights to ensure that Indian work is protected in foreign countries:

  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works,
  • Universal Copyright Convention,
  • Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement,
  • Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs) & Persons with Print Disabilities,
  • WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT),
  • WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).

Scenario at the Copyright Office:

The Copyright Office has taken several initiatives to reduce the pendency of applications, and as a result, the pendency has been lowered to one month, omitting the statutory one-month waiting time. The Copyright Office has begun to post the monthly applications received on its website to improve openness and stakeholder interaction. Applicants can check the status of their applications online as well.

Additionally, the Discrepancy Letter and the Register of Copyrights (ROC) are now sent to the Applicant via email addresses registered on Applicants can also use their Copyright login account to upload their answers to the discrepancy letter.

The Practice and Procedure Manual for Examining Literary, Artistic, Musical, Sound Recording, and Cinematograph Films have been issued by the Copyright Office.

Copyrights Trends: In the fiscal year 2020-2021, a total of 24452 applications were received. In 2020-2021, 16428 Registers of Certificates (ROC) were generated. The statistical data for 2016-2021 are given in the following table:

YearTotal applications receivedTotal application examinedRegister of Copyright (ROC) generatedDiscrepant letters issuedTotal Disposal

Related Case Laws:


In India, copyright protection is robust and effective enough to protect the concerned person’s Copyright. The protection is extended to Copyright in the classic sense and Copyright in its current sense. As a result, online copyright issues are appropriately safeguarded, albeit not clearly and explicitly. To meet the ever-increasing challenges posed by changing circumstances and cutting-edge technology, the existing law can be interpreted in such a way that all aspects of Copyright are appropriately addressed. This can be accomplished by employing the purposive interpretation technique, which requires current law to be read to ensure justice in the facts and circumstances of the case. Existing laws, on the other hand, should be altered to meet the needs of the scenario. They can be supplemented with newer ones that particularly address current challenges and difficulties. In this age of information technology, the Information Technology Act of 2000 necessitates a new perspective and direction that can effectively address the difficulties given by the Intellectual Property Rights framework. The judiciary should play an active role in protecting intellectual property rights, including Copyright, until the country has a good and robust legal framework. The situation, however, is not as dire as it appears, and the existing legal system is capable of properly dealing with any copyright-related issues.

Disclaimer: The present article intends to provide general guidance on the subject, and you can also consult us in your specific case.