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Author and Joint Ownership in Copyright Act

Author and Joint Ownership
Author and Joint Ownership


Authorship Definition

According to Section 2(d) of the Copyright Act, the term 'author' is defined as follows:

  • Literary or Dramatic Work: Refers to the creator of the work.

  • Musical Work: Denotes the composer. (Note: Copyright of music lies with the composer, whereas the copyright of a recording rests with the producer).

  • Artistic Work (excluding photographs): Attributes to the artist.

  • Photograph: Recognizes the individual who captured the image.

  • Cinematographic Film or Sound Recording: Credits the producer.

  • Architectural Work or Artistic Craftsmanship: Acknowledges the architect or artist.

  • Computer-generated Work: Identifies the initiator of the work's creation.

As per Section 17, the initial owner of copyright is the author, subject to other provisions within the Act. However, if a work is commissioned, absent any contrary agreements, the commissioner becomes the copyright owner under the 'work made for hire' concept.


Ownership and Joint Authorship

The Copyright Act, under Section 2(z), defines joint authorship as a work produced through the collaboration of two or more authors, where each contribution is inseparable from the others'.

In the case of joint authorship, ownership collectively vests in all contributors. If multiple individuals intellectually contribute to a literary work with a concerted design, they are considered joint authors. Collaboration, non-distinct contributions, and creative input are essential elements for joint authorship.

Joint Ownership Rights

In the instance of joint ownership of copyright, the High Court of Bombay, in Angath Arts Private Limited v. Century Communications Ltd., ruled that one joint owner cannot grant a licence or interest in the copyright without the consent of the other joint owner.

In Indian legal understanding, joint owners cannot exploit copyright individually but must act jointly. Thus, no joint owner can assign, transfer, licence, or sublicense the copyright without the agreement of the other joint owners.


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