Creator – Know Your Rights! A Simple Explainer Of The Indian Copyright Law That Protects Your Work!

Copyright Law In India

The interweb is a great space to be in, but it is also a space where not everyone is well-versed with the Copyright Law that binds your work as YOUR work! And there is certainly a lot of grey area and infringement on your work, thanks to the wide reach of the Internet.

But don’t worry; Creators are protected by Copyright Laws, under the Copyright Act 1957 which was last amended through the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012. But before we delve deeper into what the law states actually, let’s get the basics right, shall we?

What is Copyright?

Copyright Law
Image Courtesy: Pix4free

As stated in “A Hand Book of Copyright Law” by the Government of India, “Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work.”

In simpler terms, Copyright is your right as a Creator to describe the right you have over your literary or artistic work.

What is the Copyright Act that India follows?

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia/Blog I pleaders

According to the website, “The Copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. Unlike the case with patents, copyright protects the expressions and not the ideas. There is no copyright in an idea.”

What is original work?

Under the Copyright Law, a work is considered original if it is an independent creation and it utilises a certain level of skill, labour, judgement and effort to create it. A very important thing to note here is that you can only copyright a tangible expression of ideas and not the ideas, discoveries, concepts or theories.

In order to be protected under the law, the work, for example, any form of thought has to be either written down or artistically depicted.

Also, one work can also have multiple owners. The Hand Book states, “‘Work of joint authorship’ means a work produced by the collaboration of two or more authors in which the contribution of one author is not distinct from the contribution of the other author or authors.”

What are your rights as a Creator?

The owner of the original work has a set of exclusive rights which are:

      Right to control the use of their work

      The right and ability to earn from it.

      The right to duplicate your work.

      The right to transfer or sell the ownership of your work to someone else.

Not only that, but a Content Creator also has Economic and Moral Rights of/to their Creation.

Economic Rights are the ones that affect a Creator’s ability to monetise their work. These are:

      reproduction/making copies of your work

      distribution of the copies of the work

      performance of the work in public

      broadcasting or other communication of the work to the public

      translation of the work into other languages

      Adaptation of the work

Moral Rights are not dependent on the economic rights of the Creator. These are the Creator’s (author’s) special rights. According to Vakil Seach, these are:

      “ Right of Paternity: The right for creators/copyright owners to have their work be anonymous, pseudonyms to them.

      Right of Integrity: Creators/copyright owners can object to changes to work that may harm the reputation or keep the work from being wrongfully used.”

What’s the difference between Economic and Moral Rights?

Image Courtesy:

While the economic rights can be sold, moral rights cannot be sold or transferred to anyone else. When say a publisher or broadcaster acquires the economic rights of any work, they are obliged to credit the author of the original work.

What are the exceptions to Copyright?

There are certain exceptions to Copyrighted work. The handbook states some of the exemptions to the uses of the work, as follows:

      for the purpose of research or private study,

      for criticism or review,

      for reporting current events,

      in connection with a judicial proceeding,

      performance by an amateur club or society if the performance is given to a non-paying audience, and

      the making of sound recordings of literary, dramatic or musical works under certain conditions.

What CAN NOT be Copyright-ed?

Vakil Search did a great job of grouping them in pointers below which we would like to cite verbatim:

      Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, or discoveries 

      Works that are not fixed in a tangible form (such as a choreographic work that has not been notated or recorded or an improvisational speech that has not been written down) 

      Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans 

      Likewise, familiar symbols or designs 

      Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or colouring 

      Mere listings of ingredients or contents

How can you protect your work?

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia/.Horia Varlan

One has to understand that Copyright is automatic and you as a Creator need to do anything additionally to Copyright your work. But here’s what you can do:

  • Get your work registered at the Indian Copyright Office for it to act as legal proof of ownership of your work in case there is an infringement upon it.
  • You can consider adding the Copyright symbol © to your work.
  • Provide your name, and also the contact information from where someone who wishes to use your work can seek permission from.
  • Include the “All Rights Reserved” phrase to/in your work.
  • Also, add the year in which you made the original work.


Why is IMPORTANT for a Creator to protect their work?

Not only does it make you the rightful owner of the work, but in cases of legal proceedings or infringement suits, the certificate of registration is proof of ownership. In case of a legal dispute, the Creator (Copyright holder) can seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees.

Another major benefit of Copyrighting one’s work is that it aids in monetising your work. You, as a Creator, can incentivise it.

Plus, once you have the registration of your work, no multinational conglomerate or anyone can infringe upon your original work without facing any legal action.


Things to note:

      The copyright is not protected in perpetuity. A copyright lasts for 60 years.

      There is a government advisory body called Copyright Enforcement Advisory Council (CEAC) for Copyright related matters.

      Just like Creators have rights, Performers and Broadcasters also have rights.

      Foreign works are also protected in our country as India is also a member of International conventions on copyright like the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works, Universal Copyright Convention and more.

      There is also something called Collective Administration of Copyright, its society and there are registered Indian Copyright societies as well. But more on that later.

IRRO India
Image Courtesy: Facebook/ Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation – IRRO

With the advent of social media and its networking sites, it is becoming increasingly challenging to uphold copyright laws in the country. The last amendment was in 2012, and in the last decade itself, the digital age has grown by leaps and bounds. That surely calls for fresher amendments to the Copyright laws in India.

But, for the time being, we at TagMango wanted to let all our Creators know about the rights they have as Creators. We hope to have helped in adding more clarity to owning your work! So, get, set Create, the law’s got your back!

If you wish to read up on all the Copyright Act 1957 in-depth, head here to give a thorough read. For skimming purposes, you can read the Hand Book of Copyright Law, here.

Happy Creating to you!

Written by Rachna Srivastava

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