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Laws on Copyright

Law on Copyright
Law on Copyright

The inception of copyright legislation in India dates back to 1914, mirroring the UK Copyright Act of 1911. This initial statute underwent significant revisions and was eventually supplanted by the Copyright Act of 1957, in conjunction with the Copyright Rules of 1958. 

Presently, the Copyright Act of 1957, along with the Copyright Rules of 1958, as amended by the Copyright (Amendment) Act of 2012 and the Copyright Rules of 2013, governs copyright matters in India.

The preamble of the Act outlines its purpose as amending and consolidating copyright law. Section 16 of the Act explicitly delineates copyright as a statutory right, emphasising the absence of any common law right in copyright, limiting claims within the Act's scope.

Efforts to modernise copyright law in response to evolving technology and international dynamics have led to amendments in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1999, and 2012. The Copyright (Amendment) Act of 1994 was particularly significant, aligning the Act with the Rome Convention of 1961 by extending protection to performers, phonogram producers, and broadcasting associations. 


Furthermore, the Copyright (Amendment) Act of 1999 expanded the protection term for performers' rights and encompassed computer and information technology within its purview.

Introduction of new sections empowered the government to extend copyright protection to foreign broadcasts and performances while also restricting rights of foreign broadcasters and performers in the absence of reciprocal protection for Indian counterparts. 

These amendments aimed to comply with the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Agreement, to which India is a signatory.

The emergence of new technologies like satellite television and the internet has posed challenges to copyright, necessitating legal adaptations. Judicial intervention has played a role in safeguarding copyright through interim measures, although the adjudication process remains protracted. 

To address contemporary issues arising from digital technology and the internet, the Ministry of Human Resource Development introduced the Copyright (Amendment) Bill in 2010, which was later enacted as the Copyright (Amendment) Act of 2012.

This amendment strengthens copyright holders' protection against digital circumvention methods and introduces penalties for such circumvention. It also grants exclusive and moral rights to performers in line with international treaties. 

Notably, authors of literary and musical works featured in cinematographic films receive royalties for their commercial exploitation. The Act also facilitates the administration of copyright societies by owners, mandates access to copyrighted material in specialised formats for the physically challenged, and introduces compulsory licensing for certain entities. 

Moreover, it provides statutory licensing for broadcasting organisations to access literary and musical works, and extends copyright terms for photographs to life plus sixty years.


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