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The Copyright Act, 1957 with its amendments Copyright works



The Indian Copyright Act of 1957 was modified substantially. In May 2012, the Copyright Amendment Bill 2012, which brought Indian copyright law into conformity with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s ‘internet Treaties,’ was unanimously approved by both House of the Indian Parliament.

The government’s bill was spiritedly endorsed by opposition leaders in both houses and by representatives of other parties.

In order to comply with national and international obligations, the copyright law of 1957 was changed five times before 2012, once in each case during 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994 and 1999.

The 2012 modifications comply with the Indian Copyright Act – the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performance and Phonogram Treaty The 2012 amendment (WPPT).

In addition, the revised law ensures that fair use persists during the digital age by giving unique fair use rules, while implementing technological protective mechanisms. The reforms have included numerous amendments that are favorable to author, special provisions for the disabled, changes which make accessible works and other modifications which simplify the administration of copyright.

The changes introduced by the Copyright Act 2012 can be classified as following:

1. Modifications of rights in artistic work film and sound.

2. The rights modifications associated with WCT and WPPT.

3. Modifying the assignment and licenses for the author-friendly.

4. Modifications to facilitate work access.

5. Enhance enforcement and Internet piracy protection.

6. Reform and other minor adjustments of the Copyright Board.

  1. Modifications of rights in artistic work film and sound.

Section 14 has been changed with regard to the exclusive rights of a work. The modifications clarify the rights in creative works, movies and sound recordings by specifying that a “storing” in any media electronically or by any other means now includes the right to duplicate an artistic piece, make a copy of a film or to embody a sonic recording.

It also defines “visual recording” (Claus xxa) to mean the “recording in any medium by any method, including electronic storage, moving and displaying images of or from which they can be perceived, reproduced or communicated by any means.” This amendment Act includes the definition of “visual recording.”

The revisions address technical difficulties such as “storage,” therefore addressing some of the challenges of the digital era.

  • The rights modifications associated with WCT and WPPT

In computer programs and cinema films, Article 11 WCT, Article 7 WCT and Article 9 WPPT have the duty of providing for ‘commercial renting’ rights. The term ‘hire’ was used to introduce this privilege in section 14.

In paragraph 14(b) &(c), the amendments have substituted the word “hire” for “commercial rent,” deleting the wording “including the earlier sale of a copy or the purchase of a copy”.

  • Modifying the assignment and licenses for the author-friendly

A second proviso was inserted under paragraph 18(1). It states that no such assignments are applicable to any operating mode which, in commercial usage or when the assignment occurs, does not exist or was unknown.

This modification reinforces the author’s viewpoint when there are new ways of using the work.

A new subsection (8) was included to void copyrighted assignment if the conditions in which the work was assigned to a copyright company in which the work was authored contradict the terms and conditions of the earlier assignment. This amendment seeks to simplify corporate practices. Additional amendments to sub-section (9) are made to try to justify the business practices prevailing in the movie industry by claiming royalty from the usage of work used to make films or sound recordings regardless of any allocation of copyright to the same one.

  • Modifications to facilitate work access

By the amendment, mandatory permits for ‘any work’ not only ‘Indian works’ but also for ‘work’ can be obtained and licenses may be provided to those persons whom the board decides.

In order to promote entry to the broadcasting business, a new section 31 D has been introduced which provides for statutory licenses for radios. Access to copyrighted works now was subject to voluntary authorization. The amendment specifies that any broadcasting institution that wishes to broadcast an audio recording work may do so by notifying the right holders and paying royalties as established in advance by the Copyright Board. During broadcast, the names of the authors and main actors must be announced. The broadcasting organization shall keep broadcasting records, account books and make such records and account books available to the owner.

Section 52 lists provisions for fair use, behaviors which are not copyright violations. Some adjustments were made in the general context to extend these provisions.

The provisions on fair use have expanded to include the digital realm. The exception according to the international practice has been made to any temporary or accidental storage of any work through the caching method. Any willful storage or copying and distribution of these works is a breach of civil and criminal liability under Section 51.Exceptions to teaching and research purposes have been provided under this section since the works can be found on the internet and digitally. The scope of those provisions assures that this new section also covers the introduction of new technology.

  • Enhance enforcement and Internet piracy protection

New section 65A imposed by a copyright owner to defend its rights to work for the safeguard of technical protection measures (TPMs) makes it imprisoned for the circumvention of a crime.

This change further clarifies the issue of the circumvention of copyright rules, which affects public interest on access to work. For the indicated uses, sub-section (2) allows for circumvention.

In the process of protecting information for the management of rights defined in section 2 clause (xa), Section 65B has been introduced.

This change is aimed at preventing the removal without authority of information on the rights management and distributes, once the rights management information has been removed, fixed performance and phonograms. Any unlawful and deliberate deletion or manipulation of information on the management of rights is a criminal offense which can extend to two years’ imprisonment.The justification for protection is based on the practice of managing rights in the digital environment by means of online contracts defining conditions of use.

  • Reform and other minor adjustments of the Copyright Board

The Board of Copyright evolved considerably over the past decade. Taking into consideration the different nature of the Copyright Board’s questions, Section 11 about the creation of a Board of Copyright has been revised to make it a body of two members and a chairman. A provision was also included for paying the Board members’ salaries and allowances. This reformist approach is timely because the Copyright Board now has to discharge its several obligations.

Overall, the proposed revisions look ahead to the future. The Copyright Act 1957 is thus one of the world’s best laws on copyright.

Contributed by:– Nidhi Jha, Legal intern at LLL

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