India: How To Register A Copyright

Last Updated: 21 November 2017
Article by N. Mahabir and Prakash C. Arya
  1. Under Section 48 of Copyrights Act, registration of a Copyright shows that it is prima facie valid.  This is a rebuttable presumption and it can be proved otherwise.  However, the burden to show invalidity of the registration rests on the person asserting it.  Unlike Trade Mark not all countries have a system for registration of a Copyright Work.  Therefore, content creators and owners should make optimal use the system.
  1. In order to register an Intellectual Property Right before the Customs Office to prevent import of unauthorized work, a registered copyright is essential.  As laws and systems evolve, it is possible that a registered copyright may become mandatory to carry on trade akin to other trade licenses.  In future it cannot be ruled out that a registered copyright may trump a common law user.  Therefore, it is prudent to apply for copyright registration prior to commencing business.
  1. The question is which work can be registered as a Copyright. Large number of works which are the creation of an author can be registered as a Copyright work.  Some of them could include:
    1. Literary work:  These includes books, articles, magazines, tables and compilations.  The applicant is required to file the work in the form of a printed book or a CD which has the entire book in one file. 
    2. Dramatic work:  This is the script of a drama.  The work is to be filed in the form of a printed book or a CD which has the entire script.
    3. Artistic work:  These are a painting, drawing, work of architecture, photograph, map, plan etc.  The applicant is required to file the art work in a printed form or a CD.
    4. Musical Work:  These are the musical notations.  It does not include any song sung by any person.  The applicant is required to file a CD.
    5. Sound Recording:  These are musical work and lyrics.  The applicant is required to file a CD.
    6. Cinematographic work:  These are audio-visual works of any kind.  Applicant is required to file a CD.
    7. Software: These are instructions for operating a system or an App.  The applicant is required to file a CD
  1. The application has to be compulsorily filed online. It is not possible to file the application offline.  The work and other documents are to be filed along with a printout of the online application at the Copyright office within 30 days of the online filing.    The application is filed online and requires the applicant to fill in particulars:
    1. Particulars of the applicant / owner of the Copyright,
    2. Particulars of the author of the work. 
    3. Description of copyright work viz. Literary or Sound Recording etc. 
    4. Details of publication of the work in India with the details of the publisher and year of publication is to be mentioned.
    5. Details of publication of the work outside India and the year of publication and name of publisher is to be mentioned. 
    6. Particulars of the person and place where the original of the work is stored has to be mentioned. 
    7. A copy of the assignment from the author in favour of the applicant if the applicant and author are different person. 
    8. A notice of filing of the copyright application has to be sent by the applicant to the author if the applicant and author are different person. 
    9. When the artistic work is capable of being registered as a trade mark, the applicant is required to obtain a certificate from the Registrar of Trade Marks that no such work is registered as a trade mark.
  1. Recently, the Copyright Office has enabled search of pending applications and publication of applications which have been received for filing.  The Copyright office will examine an application 30 day of this publication.  Any person interested may thus lodge an objection against the application.
  1. After filing of the application, it is examined by the Registrar of Copyright.  Presently, the Copyright office appears to be conducting a formal evaluation of the application to verify the formal particulars of the application. 
  1. At the formal evaluation, the formal compliances are checked.  For example:  whether the assignment from the author is filed, authorization from the applicant in favour of the agent is filed, description of the work is correct and matches with the work claimed.  Considering that applications are filed online by applicants directly, it makes sense to have a formal evaluation so that minor defects can be cured at the early stage itself.  The Copyright office also considers whether the work is registrable or not.
  1. The applicant is given an opportunity to file a written response to the examination report / office objection.  If the Registrar is satisfied with the written response, the application proceeds further.  If the Registrar has any objection, generally, an opportunity of hearing is given. 
  1. If there is no outstanding objection, an entry is made in the Copyright Register of the Registration.  An extract of the Copyright Register is sent to the Applicant. 
  1. A copyright registration is valid for the full term of the copyright.  The Copyright office is completing the entire process within 8 to 10 months in some cases which are straight forward cases of registration.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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