Registration of Copyright in India

The registration of a copyright is not mandatory in India. Copyright subsist in the original literary, musical, artistic or dramatic work as soon as it is expressed by the author of the work and he gains exclusive rights with respect to that particular work to reproduce, publish, make adaptations or perform, etc. which has been guaranteed under section 14 of the Copyright Act. The copyright law in India provides for civil as well as criminal remedies upon infringement under the Copyright act.

The registration process has been encapsulated under the Copyright Act under Chapter X which states that the Registrar of Copyrights shall maintain the register of Copyrights in which all the entries shall be made with respect to the date of creation of work, name of the author, addresses, other particulars related to the title of the copyright, etc. The entries shall be made in the register after due inquiry by the Registrar into the copyright application made in prescribed format with proper fees paid. The register can however be inspected and may be corrected in some prescribed cases. Also, the aggrieved persons or Registrar of Copyrights can pray for the rectification of the register before the Copyright Board and the Copyright Board after due inquiry can correct any such wrongful entry, expunge it from the register or correct any error in the register.

Even though it has been held in various judgments that the registration of copyright is not necessary and it does not create any new right in respect of the owner and it is also not a necessary requirement for initiating any action or a remedy for infringement.

But, in the judgment delivered by the Bombay High Court in Dhiraj Dharamdas Dewani v. Sonal Info Systems Pvt. Ltd., an exact contrary position as it has been stated above was held. It was held that registration of copyright is a mandatory condition if the copyright owner wants to pursue an action or seek any remedies available in the Copyright Act. It was observed that the word ‘may’ used in the Section 45 has to be interpreted as “shall” as for seeking a remedy or initiating an action against infringement, it must be proved that the infringer was having knowledge of the copyright subsisting in the work. Therefore, it becomes very difficult to establish the knowledge of the infringer, if the copyright has not been registered and its particulars not being recorded in the copyright register.

Although the Copyright registration is not compulsory, still it is preferable to get it registered as the registration certificate stands as valid documentary evidence, which can be produced before the court at the time a suit for infringement of copyright is filed. Therefore, it is advisable to get the copyright registered as the proof of ownership is to be established first in order to claim any damages after an action for infringement is initiated. Conclusively, the registration of copyright makes the litigation and availing of the remedies easier for the owner of the copyright in cases where infringement has happened. Therefore, if the copyright is registered, proving infringement becomes relatively easier and expeditious.

Author: Pratyush Rao, Intern at IP and Legal Filings  and can be reached at support@ipandlegalfilings.com.

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