Copyright and Journalistic Writings

In the case of a literary, dramatic or artistic work made by the author in the course of his employment by the proprietor of a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical under a contract of service or apprenticeship, for the purpose of publication in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, the said proprietor shall, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, be the first owner of the copyright in the work in so far as the copyright relates to the publication of the work in any newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, or to the reproduction of the work for the purpose of its being so published, but in all other respects the author shall be the first owner of the copyright in the work.

There is no copyright over news. However, there is copyright over the way in which a news

item is reported.

Term of copyright (Ch V. 22-29)

Copyright is protected for a limited period of time. The general rule is that copyright lasts for 60 years. In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the 60-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author. In the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organisations, the 60-year period is counted from the date of publication.

Copyright for Translation (Ch VI. 32)

Any person may apply to the Copyright Board for a license to produce and publish a translation of a literary or dramatic work in any language after a period of seven years from the first publication of the work. Translation into Indian languages is possible after a period of three years from the first publication of such work, if such translation is required for the purposes of teaching, scholarship or research. If the work is not in general use in any developed country, such application may be made after a period of one year from such publication.

Copyright Societies (Ch. VII. 33-36)

Associations that existed before the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1994, and new associations

that carry on the business of issuing or granting licenses in respect of any work in which copyright subsists or in respect of any other rights conferred by this Act, has to register themselves as copyright societies to the Registrar of Copyrights. The status may be cancelled if it is proven that the functioning of the society is detrimental to the spirit of the act. The societies are managed by the owners of copyright.

Rights of Broadcasters and Performers (Ch VIII. 37-38)

Every broadcasting organization enjoys “broadcast reproduction right” according to this Act.

The right subsists until 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the broadcast is made.

During this period, no person or any other organization shall re-broadcast the broadcasts,

cause the broadcast to be heard or seen by the public on payment of any charges, make any sound recording or visual recording of the broadcast; or sell or hire such sound or visual recordings.

Performers enjoy a 50 years right over what they perform from the beginning of the calendar

year next following the year in which the performance is made. Anybody who sound records it, or video records it, or performs it without the consent of the performer, violates this right.

But any of these activities if aimed at personal copy, teaching, research, review, do not go against this act.

Infringement of Copyrights (Ch XI. 51 – 53)

Any person who without a license obtained from either the owner of the work or the Registrar

of Copyrights, who permits any place for communication of a copyrighted material for profit, knowing that it is an infringement, hires, rents, sells or buys or except for personal use is a violation of copyright.

The following are some of the commonly known acts involving infringement of copyright:

  •  Making infringing copies for sale or hire or selling or letting them for hire;
  •  Permitting any place for the performance of works in public where such performance

constitutes infringement of copyright;

  •  Distributing infringing copies for the purpose of trade or to such an extent so as to

affect prejudicially the interest of the owner of copyright ;

  •  Public exhibition of infringing copies by way of trade; and
  •  Importation of infringing copies into India.


Subject to certain conditions, a fair deal for research, study, criticism, review and news reporting, as well as use of works in library and schools and in the legislatures, is permitted without specific permission of the copyright owners. In order to protect the interests of users, some exemptions have been prescribed in respect of specific uses of works enjoying copyright.

Some of the exemptions are the uses of the work

  • for the purpose of instruction or private study,
  • for criticism or review, research,
  • for reporting current events,
  • in connection with judicial proceeding,
  • performance by an amateur club or society if the performance is given to a nonpaying


A fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for reporting current events in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, or by broadcast or in a cinematograph film or by means of photographs. However, the publication of a compilation of addresses or speeches delivered in public is not a fair dealing of such work within the meaning of this clause.

The publication in a collection, mainly composed of non-copyright matter, bona fide intended

for the use of educational institutions, and so described in the title and in any advertisement issued by or on behalf of the publisher, of short passages from published literary or dramatic works, not themselves published for the use of educational institutions, in which copyright subsists: PROVIDED that not more than two such passages from works by the same author are published by the same publisher during any period of five years.

Libraries can make not more than three copies of a book (including a pamphlet, sheet of music, map, chart or plan) by or under the direction of the person in charge of a public library for the use of the library if such book is not available for sale in India.

Translation of publication of Matters published in any Official Gazette, Acts of the Legislature, reports of any committee, commission, council, board or other like body appointed by the government if such report has been laid on the Table of the Legislature, unless the reproduction or publication of such report is prohibited by the government, court Judgments unless prohibited by court, is permitted

Civil remedies for infringement of copyright (Ch XII, XIII. 55- 70)

Any person who knowingly infringes or abets the infringement of the copyright in any work

commits criminal offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act.

When copyright in any work has been infringed, the owner of the copyright shall, be entitled

to all such remedies by way of injunction, damages, accounts and otherwise as are or may be conferred by law for the infringement of a right.

Every suit or other civil proceeding arising in respect of the infringement of copyright in any

work or the infringement of any other right shall be instituted in the district court having jurisdiction. No court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under the Copyright Act.

The minimum punishment for infringement of copyright is imprisonment for six months with the 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.

Any person who knowingly makes, or has in his possession, any plate for the purpose of

making infringing copies of any work in which copyright subsists shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.

The Registrar of Copyrights may stop importation of copies of materials made abroad but

which have copyright in India. The office may make a search in any ship, place in this regard. If copies confiscated, shall be delivered to the owner of the copyright.

Any police officer, not below the rank of a sub inspector, may, if he is satisfied that an offence in respect of the infringement of copyright in any work has been, is being, or is likely to be committed, seize without warrant, all copies of the work and all plates used for the purpose of making infringing copies of the work, wherever found, and all copies and plates so seized shall, as soon as practicable be produced before a magistrate.

The court shall order return copies of the work, or all plates be delivered up to the owner of

the copyright.