1. What is Copyright ?
Copyright is a type of intellectual property right which seeks to protect original artistic, creative and literary works. These creations require tremendous intellectual efforts, and therefore the creators are rewarded with exclusive right to exploit their work commercially. The creator can seek copyright on books, music, paintings, sculptures, films and even on technology-based works such as computer programs and electronic databases.
But it has to be remembered that an idea in itself cannot be copyrighted. It is the expression of that idea that can be copyrighted. Example – You may have a great plot for a love story in your mind. But you cannot claim copyright over that love story unless you reduce the plot to a written manuscript or a cinematographic film. Similarly, you may have a very good idea of developing a unique mobile application. But unless you write down the code for such a program, you cannot enjoy copyright protection on such program.
2. Who can own the copyright?
The creator of the work owns the copyright as soon as he/she creates the work. But it might not be possible for the creator to exploit the work all by himself. Therefore, the creator may assign such rights to persons who may commercially exploit the work. Example – The author of a novel may not want to get into the hassle of printing and distributing the books. So he assigns the copyright to the publishing house for such purpose. Similarly, a computer programmer may not have the resources to package, advertise and sell the software. So he may assign the copyright to a company which does the same for him.
2. What are the kinds of work in which copyright can be owned?
- Literary work which includes Books, pamphlets, lecture manuscripts, speeches, sermons and other writings, computer programs, electronic databases
- Dramatic and Choreographic work
- Musical Work with or without lyrics
- Artistic Work such as painting, drawing, lithography and engraving
- Cinematographic films
- Photographic works
- Sound Recordings
- Architectural Work
- Illustrations, Plans Maps
- 3-Dimensional works
3. What are the benefits of having copyright?Copyright includes a bundle of rights. It can be classified into two major categories of rights :
- Economic Rights
- Moral Rights
Economic Rights gives the creator to exploit their work for financial rewards commercially. Copyright law provides the following ways in which the creators may benefit financially from their work :
- Reproducing a literary work in various forms such as sound recording or publication in electronic format
- Public Performance of their works
- Translation of their work into other languages – This right is not limited to novels or writings. It is extended to technological works such as computer codes which can be written in a different programming language
- Adaptation of their work – Adaptation can be done by turning a novel into a screenplay. Similarly, adaptation may also include turning the plot of a novel into a computer game
- Distribution of copies of the work – Only the creator himself or the persons authorized by such creator may distribute the copies of such work
- Broadcasting Rights – Broadcasting rights include making the work available to the public at large through media such as radio, television, the internet as well as social media
- Derivative works – Toys, Model Figures etc. based on fictional characters
The moral rights give the creator to take actions with regards to preserving the integrity of their work. Moral rights remain with the creator, even after he/she has transferred all economic rights. The moral rights include :
- Claim authorship of a work – Even after the author/creator has transferred all rights to a work, nobody can claim that he/she had originally created such work
- The right to object to any distortion or derogatory action which would hamper the creator’s reputation and honor – Example of this would be changing the plot of a novel when being adapted in a cinematographic work to introduce vulgarity
4. Why should we register a copyrighted work?
Though registration of copyright is optional, it is nevertheless highly recommended. This is because, in case of infringement or counterfeit selling of the work, a creator has to establish that he had created the work before the other person in the court.
Registration of copyright provides a prima facie evidence that the copyright existed with the creator on the date of creation. The court relies heavily on such registration and it becomes easy for the creator to claim damages from the opponent for violation of his/her rights.