Information Technology, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, Entertainment and Publishing industry contributes a considerable sum to the Indian economy and hence the Indian legal system aims to provide a strong legal support to their intellectual property rights, primarily, Copyright.
The Indian Copyright regime has maintained its pace with the international standards as they are compliant with most international conventions and treatise including inter alia Berne Convention, Phonograms Convention, Madrid convention and TRIPS. It is noteworthy that although India is not a signatory to Rome Convention, 1961, yet the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 is fully compliant with the provisions thereof.
The current Copyright Act was enacted in 1957, which replaced the Copyright Act, 1914 of British India. Since, its enactment, the law has been amended several times as is in effect today. Primarily these amendments were introduced to harmonize the existing provisions with the international mandates and to improve and enhance the copyright protection mechanism. It is noteworthy that the Copyright Act, 1957 is also equipped to deal with overlapping of intellectual property rights. The Act forbids registration of those works, which are registered under the Designs Act, 2000. Further, in case of a work which is capable of being used in relation to any goods, the Applicant is required to obtain a No-Objection Certificate from the Registrar of Trade Marks.
The copyright regime functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India. Contrary to the various amendments and modernized provisions in other domains of IP, Copyright filing and prosecution has not undergone any substantial change since the enactment of the Act. Unlike the working of Intellectual Property Office, it is astounding that only one office at New Delhi accepts application from all over India.
The Copyright Act, 1957 establishes Copyright Office and Copyright Board as statutory bodies for discharging the functions under the Act as well as for redressing grievances such as license fee etc. An order of Registrar of Copyright can be challenged before the Copyright Board and a further appeal can be preferred therefrom, before the appropriate High Court.
The Copyright Act, 1957, provides for both civil as well as criminal remedies to the copyright holder in cases of infringement. Even though the civil remedial mechanism differs from the criminal mechanism, both can be availed simultaneously.
- Civil Remedies:
Section 62 of the Copyright Act, 1957 permits the copyright owner to institute a suit or otherwise, initiate any civil proceedings relating to infringement of copyright in the District Court having jurisdiction. Furthermore, under Section 55 of the Act, the owner is entitled to civil remedies by way of injunction, damages or accounts, as the case may be.
- Criminal Remedies:
Infringement of copyright is also a criminal offence, as per Section 63 of the Copyright Act. The minimum punishment for such an offence is imprisonment for six months with a minimum fine of Rs. 50,000/-. In the case of a second and subsequent conviction, the minimum punishment is imprisonment for one year and fine of Rs. One lakh.