Rights of Copyright Owners in India

Rights of Copyright Owners in India: All You Need to Know


Copyright is a type of Intellectual Property Right (IPR) that gives the owner of the copyright the sole, undivided right to distribute, copy or perform a creative work for a limited period. Creative Work can be in any form whether artistic, dramatic, literary, or musical. The intention behind granting copyright is to protect the creative work and not the idea. This article discusses the rights of copyright owners in India.

Copyright in India

In India, an act by the name of The Copyright Act, 1957 has been passed to amend and consolidate all of the existing laws related to Copyright. The act is divided into 79 sections and 15 Chapters. The Nature of Copyright Law is that it has been enacted to protect the owner of the copyright from any unlawful reproduction/ exploitation of his work by others.

The object of Copyright Law is to encourage the authors, and creators to create original works and reward them exclusive rights for a limited period to extract the work for monetary gains. The Copyright Act, 1957 provides protection for the lifetime of the author plus 60 years from the date of the publication of the copyright.

Neighboring Rights

Neighboring Rights are also as known as rights neighboring to copyright / related to copyright. It is copyright granted to some categories of people who are not the authors of the work and are performing artists and those involved in tv, radio, and broadcasting. They are extended to cover the following three categories:

  1. Performers Rights
  2. Recording Rights
  3. Broadcasting Rights.

Rights of Copyright Owners in India

The Rights of Copyright Owners are divided into two categories and are as follows:

  1. Primary Rights
  2. Secondary Rights

Primary Rights

  1. Reproduction Right

This right allows the copyright owner to make duplicates of the work which has been granted protection in any form. However, before the duplication of the work by someone who has been granted a license, authorization from the original creator of the work is needed unless the work has been duplicated to not gain any commercial benefits. It also includes within its meaning the concept of material copying and substantial copying.

It is to be noted that the entire work needs not to be copied and if just a part is also copied, it does amount to infringement.

  1. Private Copying

An exception to the right of reproduction, it allows any person to duplicate works protected by copyright if it is proved by the person who has duplicated the work that the duplication was made for education and there exists no commercial benefit from such duplication.

This is an exception to the reproduction rights which are attained by the owner. According to this right, any person can make copies of the copyright-protected work if it is proved that such copying is for educational purposes and that there is no commercial motive behind such copies being made.

  1. Distribution Right

It is linked to The Reproduction Right. Distribution Right gives the owner of the copyright the to either transfer some or whole of the rights associated with the copyright to someone/distribute his work in any manner he wishes to.

It is up to the wish of the owner how he wants to distribute his right which can be in the form of sale/lend in the form of a gift/ free / lend for consideration/ lend or rental.

  1. Integrity Right

The right of the copyright owner to safeguard/shield his work from ill-reputation from unlawful and unauthorized exploitation.

  1. Derivative Works Right

The owner of the copyright has full authority to use his work in any way he thinks so.

E.g.: if a movie is being made on a novel and some derivations are being made, the permission of the owner is needed. In such a situation, the owner’s other rights come into the picture like the integrity right. 

  1. Publicly Perform Right

The owner of the copyright has the authority and right to perform his works in public. E.g., the copyright owner can perform his works(dramas) in public.

He can also broadcast his work and also includes the authority to make his work publicly accessible through the medium of the internet and the terms and conditions of the same are to be decided by the owner.

  1. Droit de Suite / Right to Follow.

This type of right is usually granted to the authors and artists and gives them authority/ permission to obtain a part in the further sale/ resale of their work.

  1. Adaptation Right

It includes within its meaning the Rearranging/ Conversion/ Transcription/ Conversion of a work that has been granted copyright protection.

These rights are only available to Literary/ Dramatic/ Musical Works and not to computer programmes. Although The Adaption Right is protected by the statutes, it is also protected by the principles as laid down in The Case of Macmillan and Company Ltd. V K. and J. Cooper.

  1. Translation Right

This right allows the owner of the copyright to transcribe any of his work in any language he wishes.

  1. Attribution/Paternity Right

This right provides the owner of the copyright to assert work authorship. Under this right, the owner of the copyright has the power to assert his due credit for any of his works.

  1. Retraction Right

This right means the waiver of rights granted to the owner of the copyright granted to the work for the preservation of the work’s dignity and preservation of the gained reputation of the work.

Rights of Copyright Owners in India
Rights of Copyright Owners in India

Secondary Rights

  1. Grant License Right

The owner of the copyright in any of the works so existing has the power to grant his interest in the copyright in writing. It can also be assigned for future prospective work but will only come into force when the work comes into existence.

It is to be noted that in the case of joint ownership over copyright, it cannot be granted without the authorization and permission of both of the owners.

  1. Special Rights of Author

Even after the assignment of the copyright the author still has some special rights and is as follows:

  • Claim Authorship of the Work
  • Restrain/ Claim Damages in respect of any Modification/Distribution done to his work before the expiry of his copyright.
  1. Right to sue for Infringement.

Where the copyright in any work is infringed, the copyright owner is entitled to remedies by way of

  • Injunction
  • Damages
  • Profit on account of Accounts.
  1. Transmission by Operation of Law.

When the owner of copyright dies, whether published or not the copyright passes on to the legal heirs of that person as part of the estate unless any will have been executed. It is to be noted that if any work has been bequeathed without specifically bequeathing the copyright, the right automatically gets bequeathed. 

  1. Relinquishment of Copyright

Any owner of the copyright may relinquish all or any of his rights connected with his work by giving notice to The Registrar of Copyright.

International Conventions, Agreements, and Treaties governing Copyright Usage 

  • Berne Convention

It came into force in 1886 in Berne and provides for the protection of authors in the literary, scientific, and artistic domain in whatever form or mode of expression.

It provides for a minimum term of protection for the author’s lifetime plus 50 years from the date of publication of the work.

  • Universal Copyright Convention

The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) was formulated in Switzerland and came into force in 1952.

It was formulated as a response to the concerns raised by some nations due to some policies of The Berne Convention.

  • TRIPS Agreement

It stands for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It was formulated at the end of The Uruguay Round of The General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT).

It is a multilateral framework at the international level which prescribes a minimum standard for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights by the member states.

Copyright along with Neighbouring Rights is governed by Part II of The TRIPS Agreement under Section 9-14.


Copyright is a type of literary Intellectual Property that recognizes the rights of the author, and creator and includes within its meaning Musical Works, Artistic Works, Dramatic Works, and Sound Recordings. Thus, we can see that under the Copyright Law in India, the owner of a work is granted protection hence termed as Copyright over his/her work for a limited period. It is usually for the lifetime of the author plus 60 years from the date of publication of the work.  

List of References