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The Copyright Act, 1957 amended in 2012

The Copyright Act of 1957 underwent an amendment in 2012 with the aim of bringing about clarity, resolving operational challenges, and addressing emerging issues related to digital technologies and the Internet. Additionally, the key objective of amending the Act was to foster a culture of creativity, enterprise, and innovation in our present knowledge-based society. It is essential to enable creative individuals to realize their potential, while also ensuring that copyright laws keep up with the evolving demands of a rapidly advancing knowledge-driven and modern society.


The Copyright (Amendment) Act of 1994 acknowledges the unique nature of copyright infringement in computer programs by introducing a new provision, Section 63B. This section specifies the penalties for knowingly utilizing an infringing copy of a computer program on a computer system.

According to the new provision, an individual who knowingly makes use of an infringing copy of a computer program on a computer can be subjected to imprisonment for a minimum of seven days and a maximum of three years, along with a fine ranging from Rs. 50,000/- to Rs. 2,00,000/-.

However, the proviso to Section 63B states that if the computer program was not used for gain or in the course of trade or business, the court has the discretion to refrain from imposing a sentence of imprisonment. Instead, the court may choose to impose a fine of up to Rs. 50,000/- based on the circumstances mentioned in the judgment.


Classes of work for which Copyright protection is applicable

  1. Copyright protection extends to the following categories of works throughout India:
  • Original literary works
  • Dramatic works
  • Musical works (including music and graphic notation, but excluding words or actions intended to be sung, spoken, or performed with music)
  • Artistic works (including paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, photographs, architecture, and other works of artistic craftsmanship, regardless of their artistic quality)
  • Cinematograph films (visual recordings produced through a process that can generate a moving image, including accompanying sound recordings)
  • Sound recordings (recordings of sounds that can be used to produce sounds, regardless of the medium or method of production)

Protection to Authors

Copyright safeguards the rights of authors, who are the creators of intellectual property encompassing literary, musical, dramatic, and artistic works, as well as cinematograph films and sound recordings. The following rights are protected under copyright law:

  • Reproduction: The right to make copies of the work.
  • Distribution: The right to publish and distribute copies of the work to the public.
  • Public Performance: The right to present or perform the work in public.
  • Communication to the Public: The right to communicate the work to the public through any means, such as broadcasting or online streaming.
  • Translation: The right to produce translations of the work.
  • Adaptation: The right to create adaptations or derivative works based on the original work. This includes transforming a dramatic work into a non-dramatic work, converting a literary work into a dramatic work, re-arranging literary or dramatic works, depicting a literary or dramatic work through pictures or comics, transcribing musical works, and making cinematograph films based on literary, dramatic, or musical works.
  • Cinematograph Film and Sound Recording: The right to create a cinematograph film or sound recording based on the work.


    In the case of computer programs, in addition to the aforementioned rights applicable to literary works, the owner of the copyright in a computer program enjoys the exclusive rights to sell, hire, offer for sale, or offer for hire copies of the program, irrespective of whether such copies have been sold or hired before.


Owners of copyrights

The ownership of copyrights can be attributed to the following individuals or entities:

  • Musical Sound Recordings: The copyright ownership of musical sound recordings typically extends to the lyricist, composer, singer, musician, and the person or company responsible for producing the sound recording.


  • Works by Journalists during Employment: Unless there is an agreement stating otherwise, the copyright ownership of works created by journalists during their employment usually belongs to the employer or the proprietor of the organization.


  • Works Produced for Valuable Consideration at Another Person’s Instance: In the absence of any contrary agreement, the copyright ownership of works created for valuable consideration at the request of another person lies with the individual or entity who commissioned or requested the work.


Assignment of Copyright

The copyright owner of an existing work or the potential copyright owner of a future work has the authority to transfer the copyright, either entirely or partially, to another person. This transfer can be done in a comprehensive manner or with specific limitations, and it can cover the entire duration of the copyright or only a portion of it.

When assigning the copyright, the agreement should specify the rights being transferred, the duration of the assignment, the geographical scope of the assignment, and the royalty or compensation to be paid. It is crucial that the assignment is documented in writing and signed by the copyright owner or their authorized representative.

By having a written and signed assignment agreement, both parties involved can establish clear terms and conditions regarding the transfer of copyright, ensuring legal clarity and protection of rights.


Term of the protection of Copyright

The standard duration of copyright is 60 years. However, the specific calculation of this period varies depending on the type of work:

  • Original Literary, Dramatic, Musical, and Artistic Works: For these works, the 60-year duration begins from the year following the author’s death


  • Cinematograph Films, Sound Recordings, Photographs, Posthumous Publications, Anonymous and Pseudonymous Publications, Works of Government, and Works of International Organizations: In these cases, the 60-year duration is calculated from the date of publication.

Exceptions to the use Copyright

To safeguard the interests of users, specific exemptions have been established to allow certain uses of copyrighted works. These exemptions grant permission for the following purposes:

  • Research or Private Study: The use of a copyrighted work for research or private study is permitted under certain conditions.
  • Criticism or Review: Users are allowed to use copyrighted works for the purpose of criticism or review, provided it is done in accordance with the applicable guidelines.
  • Reporting Current Events: Copyrighted works can be used for reporting current events, ensuring that the usage adheres to relevant regulations.
  • Judicial Proceedings: Copyrighted works can be used in connection with judicial proceedings, subject to the appropriate legal framework.
  • Performance by Amateur Clubs or Societies: Amateur clubs or societies are permitted to perform copyrighted works to non-paying audiences.
  • Making Sound Recordings: Under specific conditions, individuals can create sound recordings of literary, dramatic, or musical works.
  • Education and Religious Ceremonies: Copyrighted works can be used for educational purposes and religious ceremonies, within the established parameters.

Administration of the Copyright Law

The administration of the Copyright Law is facilitated through the establishment of a quasi-judicial body known as the Copyright Board. This board is composed of a Chairman and a varying number of members, not exceeding fourteen, who are responsible for adjudicating specific types of copyright cases. The Chairman of the Board holds a position equivalent to that of a judge in a High Court. The Copyright Board possesses the following powers:

  • Appeals and Rectification: The Board has the authority to hear appeals against orders issued by the Registrar of Copyright and to consider applications for rectifying entries in the Register of Copyrights.


  • Disputes on Copyright Assignment: It is within the jurisdiction of the Board to resolve disputes related to the assignment of copyright.


  • Compulsory Licensing: In certain circumstances, the Board can grant compulsory licenses for the publication or republication of works. Additionally, the Board can grant compulsory licenses for the production and publication of translations of literary or dramatic works in any language, after a period of seven years from the initial publication of the work.

Rights of the Registrar of Copyrights

The Registrar of Copyrights possesses the powers equivalent to that of a civil court when dealing with suits under the Code of Civil Procedure. These powers extend to the following matters:

  • Summoning and Examination: The Registrar has the authority to summon individuals and compel their attendance. They can also examine these individuals under oath to gather relevant information.
  • Document Discovery and Production: The Registrar can demand the discovery and production of any documents that are necessary for the case at hand.
  • Evidence on Affidavit: The Registrar has the power to accept evidence presented through affidavits, which are written statements made under oath.
  • Issuing Commissions: The Registrar can issue commissions to facilitate the examination of witnesses or the retrieval of documents.
  • Requisitioning Public Records: In order to gather relevant information, the Registrar has the right to request any public record or its copy from any court or office.
  • Other Prescribed Matters: The Registrar is also empowered to handle any additional matters that may be prescribed by law.