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Copyright is an Intellectual Property which gives exclusive privilege to publish the work, to reproduce it in any material form and to include it in any cinematographic film.

  • It gives a person the proprietary right in
    • Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work
    • Cinematograph film
    • Sound recording, musical or literary work
  • Copyright is a right in rem
  • Copyright is a negative right
  • gives the owner the Original Title which can be licensed or sold to another person who gets the Derivative Title. the Original Title and Derivative Title are called Investitive Facts or Titles.
  • Copyright is an incorporeal property.
  • Infringing a copyright would lead to an actionable wrong.
  • Copyright is a moral property. It does not vest in obscene or immoral works and exists only in lawful creations. The intention is that no works should injure society or Government.
  • Copyright is a sui generis. i.e it is 'of its own kind', 'of its own right' and 'the only one of its kind'
  • Early copyright law was not written keeping in mind of computers and computer software. Apple v Franklin was one of the first case that dealt with copyright involving computer instruction embedded in a chip.
  • Copyright law is a federal subject in several countries.

Berne Convention

The International Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1886 at Berne was the earliest modern convention dealing with copyright and related rights. It attempted to eliminate, or to reduce if not possible, the differences between national legislation in regard to the rights of authors in their literary and artistic work. The convention at Paris in 1896 announced then Interpretation Declaration and other conventions in 1908, 1914 and 1948 improved it.

  • In the initial days, the Copyright protection was available to the author only in his country. Later amendments extended it to all the countries having membership in the Union.
  • Initially, the right was 'subject to accomplishment of the conditions and formalities prescribed by law in the country of origin'. Later it was allowed to every national of the country irrespective of the existence of protection in the country of origin.
  • Article 2 of the Convention defined 'literary and artistic works' clearly.
  • Related rights, such as Right of translation, Right of reproduction etc. are given important place in the Convention protecting author's rights.
  • Understanding the importance of moral rights, the Convention enhanced the 'right of respect' among the authors.
  • Exemption from infringement - the 'fair use rule' was evolved.

Inter-American Copyright Conventions

A number of American colonies adopted by Britain began to make their own statues on copyright protection.

Universal Copyright Convention

UNESCO, in 1952, attempted to bring together the nations from the Berne Convention and the Inter-American Conventions together and bring a common workable copyright law worldwide. This was achieved at the Geneva Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) signed by 40 member countries.


  • Gave the author, world wide rights over his works to the same degree as the works of the authors native to that country
  • Gave the author control over world-wide translation rights of his works.

World Intellectual Property Organization

(Main article: World Intellectual Property Organization)

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was established after a decision to this effect was taken at the Stockholm Convention in 1967. WIPO actually came into existence in 1974.

Copyright Laws and Acts

Other Related Acts

Designs Act, 1911

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Law