An Overview of The Copyright Act, 1957


India is among the developing countries in the world. India is very lucky to have received the copyright act from its colonial rules. Prior to the copyright act of 1957, colonial India had the copyright act of 1847, which was the first copyright act. Afterward, the copyright act of 1911 was introduced, it was repealed, replaced and applied to all British colonies including India. Further, it was again modified in the year 1914 which was applicable in India until replaced by the Copyright Act,1957 by the parliament of sovereign India because of the change in the constitutional status of the country and also as there was the light of growing public awareness about rights.

In India, the Copyright Act, 1957 the rules made govern the facets of copyright, related to the right of one’s original expression and encourages to build freely upon ideas and the neighboring rights. The act was originally divided into 15 chapters with 79 sections in it. The copyright is granted and protected as per the provisions of the act and there exists no common right. Under the Constitution of India, the matter of copyright fall under Entry 49 of List -1 which is the Union List and it is a subject of the Central law. Thus, the parliament has the right to frame the law of this subject.



Chapter one mainly portray the subject matter of protection of copyright because the copyright has become an international nature due to the advancement of the technology and anyone can violate the rights of others from any part of the world. As per the different subsections of section 2 of the copyright act, 1957 and judicial interpretation from time to time many matters are eligible to get the protection.

On analyzing all the classification and categorizations of the works as provided under different sub-section of section 2 of the copyright act,1957 and taking reference from the judicial views of the different high courts and the supreme court of India, the following copyrighted heads in the subsection 2 and related works will enjoy the copyright protection under the current updated amended legislation.


Copyright in India arises as soon as the work is ‘fixed’ in a tangible medium. The Nation adheres to the principles of ‘automatic’ protection and registration of works is not mandatory to avail the protection of copyright. The Act has established a Copyright Office 219 under the immediate control of the Registrar of Copyrights, an administrative authority who shall act under the superintendence and directions of the Central Government.

Such a facility exists at the Copyright Office at New Delhi or other regional offices where the Registrar of Copyrights, headed by the Registrar of Copyright maintained to provide registration for all types of works. There exists a set procedure for registration of a work under the Copyright Rules 1958 which has been suitably amended from time to time and registration is provided for both published and unpublished works.


The Copyright Act of India provides dual legal machinery to the right holders for enforcing their rights. The enforcement is possible through (1) the Copyright Bard and (2) the Courts. The Act has established a quasi-judicial body called the Copyright Board entrusted with the task of adjudication of disputes pertaining to copyright registration, assignment of copyright, the grant of licenses in respect of works withheld from the public, unpublished Indian works, production and publication of translations and works for certain specified purposes. It also hears cases in other miscellaneous matters instituted before it under the Copyright Act, 1957.

The Registrar of Copyrights is to perform the secretarial functions of the Board and thus has been statutorily designated as the Secretary of the Copyright Board who is duty-bound to perform under the direction and control of the Chairman of the Copyright Board. The person to be appointed as a Chairman of the Copyright Board should be qualified to hold the office of a judge of a High Court or could be holding such position or must have held. The members as aforesaid shall be eligible for reappointment.


The Copyright Society is such a legal entity that safeguards the interests of owners of the work in which copyright subsists. Chapter VII of the Copyright Act (Section 33 to 36A) deals with the Copyright Societies. The Copyright(Amendment) Act, 1994 made the working of Performing Rights Societies wider in respect of rights relating to granting licenses for the performance in India.



Copyright Act provides different types of civil remedies available under the civil court of justice.

The owner of the copyright shall, except as otherwise provided by this Act, be entitled to civil remedies mentioned and conferred by law for the infringement of copyright. The provisions for the civil remedies in India are provided from Section 54 to 62 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Further the civil remedies under the Copyright Act are also divided into two categories: Preventive Civil Remedies and Compensatory Civil Remedies.


This is another kind of remedy available to the owner/holder of the copyright under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. Sections 63 to 70 of the Copyright Act deals with the provision of criminal remedy in India. When any person knowingly infringes (a) the copyright in a work or (b) any other right conferred by the Copyright Act, (viz. broadcasting, reproduction, special rights) or knowingly to abet such infringement.

It is further added that the work of infringement shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years. Along with the punishment, a fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees can also be imposed.


This is also known as the quasi-judicial remedy available under the Copyright law in India. The copyright owner can prevent the importation of such copies in the Indian Territory which would infringe the copyrights of a work made in India. The Registrar of Copyrights can make an order to that effect upon receipt of such application by the owner of the copyright after the inquiry. An appeal under section 72 of the Copyright Act lies to the Copyright Board against the order of the Registrar.


The Copyright act is considered an essential law of protection of one’s original work. Its main intention was to regulate the commercial monopoly and the competing interest of the concerned person.

This Article is Authored by Hirak Ray, BA. LLB. (Hons.) Student at Department of Law, University of North Bengal.

Also Read – How to Respond to A Copyright Infringement Notice?

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