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An intellectual property asset is similar to a business asset. As well as being able to be sold, leased, purchased, etc., it can also be mortgaged. During the Pavin Convention in 1833, the term intellectual property was derived from the term "industrial property". A key objective of intellectual property is to protect ideas and information that have significant commercial value.

Essentially, these rights are negative: they prevent others from producing, selling, mortgaging, or making profits apart from the designated holder. There is also a positive aspect to these rights. Owners of such rights are entitled to a variety of benefits, including recognition and legal protection.

Copyright, Trademarks, Patents, and Industrial Designs are the four types of intellectual property. There is also a type known as Geographical Indication.

What is Copyright and how does it work?

Literary, artistic, and dramatic works are protected by copyrights, a form of intellectual property. Producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings are also awarded them. By protecting copyrights, the owner's legal rights along with his work and expression are protected.

In developing the copyright act, two things were accomplished: first, it protected and prevented plagiarism, and second, it encouraged more creators to freely express their ideas.

The development of copyright and its concept can be divided into two parts:

  1. Pre - Independence period

  2. Post - Independence Period

Pre Independence Period:

In colonial India, copyright dates back to 1847, when the East India Company developed all rules and regulations. Before mechanization, the work that was done had to be dutifully registered with the appropriate authority to enforce copyright. At that time, an author's copyright lasted for the author's lifetime plus seven years after the creator's death. A comprehensive legislation relating to copyright was passed in 1914, which introduced criminal sanctions in case of infringements and broadened the definition of copyright.

Post Independence:

In 1947, India gained independence, which led to the creation of a new copyright act. The new act was known as the Copyright Act, 1957. Prior to that, the British Copyright Act, 1911 was in use, which was nothing more than an extension of the Act of 1914.

A copyright amendment bill was passed by the Indian parliament in 2012. No debate or opposition was encountered during the passage of this bill. The bill aimed to bring Indian copyright laws in line with international standards. They were required to comply with the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performance and Programme Treaty (WPPT). A number of amendments and corrections were made to the Copyright Act, of 1957, in this bill. The Copyright Amendment Act, 2012 made major changes regarding cinematographic films and sound recordings, changes to comply with WCT and WPPT, changes to license granting and assignment, and protection against piracy.

Copyright Act, 1957

All the creations under Section 13 of the Copyright Act, 1957 are known as "works." Thus, according to section 13 following can be classified as works -

● Literary Work

● Dramatic Work

● Musical Work

● Artistic Work

● Cinematographic Films

● Sound Recordings

Literary Work:

Copyright Act, 1957 provides a definitive meaning of the term "literary work." This act includes computer programming, computer data, tablets, etc. Literary Work may include verbal or numerical statements, can be written and produced.

Dramatic Work:

It includes any work of choreography, recitation, or acting which may be written but does not include cinematographic films. This definition given by the Copyright Act, of 1957 is inclusive and contains general terms and meaning.

Musical Work:

According to the Copyright Act of 1957, musical work means any work which includes music and graphical notions but does not include anything which can be sung, spoken, or performed. For the musical work to get legal protection, it has to be completely original.

Artistic Work:

According to the definition, artistic work includes paintings, sculptures, engraving photographs, architecture, etc. Everything which has an artful quality can be classified under artistic work.

Cinematographic Films:

Cinematographic Films include any work having visual recording and sound recording and the expression associated with it. Copyright Act, 1957 also includes video films as part of cinematographic films and provides legal protection.

Sound Recording:

According to the Copyright Act of 1957, sound recordings include recordings that can be produced regardless of the medium and the method by which sound is produced.

The Rights Provided

Negative rights are granted to the owners and creators of works under the Copyright Act of 1957. It prohibits others from exploiting someone's work and enjoying any sort of monetary benefits. There are mainly two types of rights provided by the Copyright Act:

● Economic Rights

● Moral Rights

Economic Rights:

Economic Rights are also known as Exclusive Rights and are provided under Section 14 of Copyright Act, 1957. Every work has different rights conferred upon them.

As an example, in literary, dramatic, and musical works, the rights conferred are the rights to reproduce, issue copies, perform in public, adapt, translate, etc.

Moral Rights:

Moral Rights can also be called Ethical Rights. Creators receive them in honor of their work, struggle, and arduous labor. However, economic rights are conferred so that his work is protected from exploitation. Article 6 of the Berne Convention formally recognizes these rights.

According to Section 57 of Copyright Act, 1957 moral rights are classified under two headings:

● Paternity Rights are given to original creators and owners of the work receive these rights. They confer the right to ascribe authorship and to prevent others from exploiting, claiming, or profiting from the work.

● Right to Integrity is the right provided to claim damages in case of any exploitation, distortion or mutilation in the name of the original creator or against his creation.

The Present Scenario

With advancement in technology and creative developments the demand for legal protection in relation to intellectual property and specifically copyrights has increased three folds. The government has been taking various steps to ensure that in present times the works done by the creators are not only provided with recognition and economic support but also ethical and moral rights. The government is also making sure that more creative developments come up and more and more people express themselves and their ideas without any fear of exploitation.

The most significant development which took place was the dissolution of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board. In April 2021, the Government of India abolished Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) and also amended Copyright Rules, 2013. As a result, the Copyright Board has been replaced with Appellate Board and all the powers which were conferred on IPAB have now been transferred to high courts and commercial courts.

To bring more transparency to the process, the government has announced that an Annual Transparency Report will be published every financial year. It also stipulates that royalties paid to unidentified lawyers be kept in separate accounts and all efforts be made to locate them. If the authors cannot be reached after three years, the entire amount will be transferred to the copyright society's welfare fund.


There is no doubt that copyright protection law is an essential element of intellectual property protection in today's world. In addition to providing legal protection to the owners and creators, copyright protection also ensures that the owners aren't exploited. Creators are encouraged to come up with their own ideas and expressions when legal protection is provided to them.

Online References

ICLG, (last visited June 22, 2022)

This article is written by Kulwant kohli of Rani Durgavati Vishwavidhalya.

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