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The core of primary establishment is reflected in two ways by the Copyright Act of 1957 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”). The first is the exclusion of others from profitably exploiting a work with originality expressed by the owner in order to streamline the fruits of his labour to be attained by him without reasonable hindrances, and the second is the inclusion of the general public in this domain who derive certain rights in the form of permitted uses in the work, as stated in Section 52 of the Act. This dual dimension of the Act's objectivization results in notable exceptions to infringement as well. There are a variety of defences available to validate or negate infringement, depending on the circumstances and nature of the case.

In a word, copyright infringement is an intrusion into a private space owned and occupied by the copyright owner. The essence of Section 51 of the Act is that a work is considered to be infringed if an act violates the terms of the licence so provided, disrupts the copyright holder's exclusive rights, or maliciously communicates the work to the public.


When someone else uses your copyrighted work without your permission, it's called copyright infringement. Many times, we observe people copying movies, music, and other media without the necessary permits. If the owners obtain copyright protection for their work, they will be eligible for compensation if their work is infringed upon. Anyone who copies or uses the original work without permission is subject to legal action and must compensate the work's original owner.

Anyone who wishes to use a copyrighted work must first obtain permission from the owner. They may be able to pay the owner to purchase the copyrighted material in some situations.

Only when an unauthorised person copies a significant portion of a work does a copyright violation occur. While deciding the matter, the court considers how the work would be seen by a layperson. Copyright Infringement is defined under Section 51 of the Act.


Limitations and exceptions are provisions in copyright laws that, in the public interest, allow the use of copyrighted works without prior permission or a licence from the owner.

In principle, copyright restrictions and exceptions must pass a three-step test outlined in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. A limitation or exception to the copyright is only authorised under the Berne Convention if-

· Special instances are covered.

· Doesn't interfere with the work's normal exploitation.

· Does not arbitrarily favour the author's legitimate interests.

The extent and quantity of standard constraints and exceptions change from country to country. In India, Section 52 of the Act provides an exception for certain acts that do not constitute a copyright infringement or are not regarded copyright infringements. Fair treatment of a literary, musical, theatrical, or artistic work that is not a computer programme for a variety of reasons such as Private use, research, fair use etc are some examples.

Now to discuss the whole section 52 of the Act in length would make this piece a boring lengthy jargon filled piece of information, but our aim is to present the concept here in a more understandable and simple manner, hence, we would be discussing some key principles and case laws to better understand the issue.


The doctrine of fair dealing is an exception to the law that protects any item that is copyrighted under the Act. It is a legal notion that allows a person to use any work protected by the Act with restrictions in order to preserve the sanctity and originality of the work as well as the registered proprietor of the work.

The defence of "fair dealing" began as a doctrine of equity that enables the use of certain copyrightable works that would otherwise be forbidden and amounted to copyright infringement. The major goal of this theory is to prevent stagnation in the evolution of innovation, which is what the law was created for. With the passage of time, India has experienced enormous technological advancements, yet the rule of fair dealing still has a relatively limited scope. However, if we go to the west, continuous improvements have been made in this subject through inventive interpretations and judicial activism.

Since the Act does not define or mention the term “Fair dealing” the definition of Fair Dealing varies depending on the facts and circumstances. In India, the Court uses common sense to evaluate what constitutes fair dealing on a case-by-case basis.

The employment of the defence of fair use of the work necessitates screening through four major aspects that determine the fairness of the reproduction, as follows:

i. The purpose and character of the use

ii. The characteristics of copyrighted work

iii. A significant quantity of original work has been used up, and

iv. Value of the work in the public domain

To determine if a claimant's exploitative action comes within the scope of fair use, the four-factor test must be applied. These elements make it easier to assess the work by determining whether it contributes fresh expression or meaning to the original work or is simply a copy of the related original work. Typically, courts look to see if the usage is transformational.



1. Gyles vs Wilcox- The first case based on the concept of Fair Use law was adjudicated by the Court of Chancery of England, and it created the doctrine of "Fair Abridgment," which later became known as "Fair Dealing."

The Court decided in this case whether copyrighted work can be abridged or if such truncated material should be deemed new work apart from abridged work.

2. Folsom vs Marsh- This was the first-ever "Fair Use" case in the United States, in which Justice Story established the following four considerations to decide whether a work is of Fair Use, which were eventually codified under the Copyright Act of 1976:

i. The purpose and character of the use

ii. The characteristics of copyrighted work

iii. A significant quantity of original work has been used up, and

iv. Value of the work in the public domain


1. Kartar Singh Giani v. Ladha Singh - "Two points have been urged in connection with the meaning of the expression fair, in fair dealing (1) that in order to constitute unfairness there must be an intention to compete and to derive profit from such competition and (2) that unless the infringer's motive was unfair in the sense of being improper, the dealing would be fair," the High Court.

2. India TV Independent News Services Pvt. Ltd. vs Yashraj Films Pvt. Ltd- In this case, the defendants, India TV, broadcasted a show on its channel documenting the lives of singers in which the singers were shown performing their own songs, but while doing so, excerpts from a movie scene were shown to play in the background. Yashraj Films Private Limited, the plaintiff, claimed that having a movie scene in the background infringes on its Copyright. The defendants invoked Section 52's fair dealing defence. The Delhi Court rejected the defendants' fair dealing defence and barred them from producing, distributing, broadcasting, or otherwise exploiting any cinematograph film, sound recording, or part thereof that the Plaintiff owns. The Hon'ble panel of the Delhi High Court also felt compelled to disregard the traditional approach to dealing with Section 52 of the Copyright Act, overturning the sole Judge's ruling and lifting the limits imposed. The Appellants were, however, nevertheless barred from transmitting any cinematograph film without first obtaining authorization. Fair dealing as a concept was expanded to include musical recordings and cinematograph films by the Copyright (Amendment) Act of 2012.

By ignoring the inflexible and conventional approach and enacting the required reforms in this case, the Indian legal system made progress in the subject of fair dealing under Copyright.

3. Civic Chandran vs. Ammini Amma- The Court held that a parody does not constitute a copyright infringement as long as it is not exploited or misappropriated.


It can be reasonably inferred that the standard for determining whether a copyrighted work is a Fair Use of such work varies from case to case because the circumstances must take precedence over the law. Though the legislature has endeavoured to make law on this notion more flexible but precise, section 52 of the Copyright Act, 1957 in India provides a legitimate basis for the public to rely on this provision for the time being.

In a nutshell, copyright should not prevent the creative manipulation and reuse of existing works, as long as other rules are not broken. A limit on the amount of visual, literary, musical, and auditory records that can be reproduced motivates individuals to improve their work while also preventing unauthorised usage or replication.

This article is written by Mohd Saqib Husain of Lloyd Law College.

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