Assignment, Transmission, And Relinquishment Of Copyright : An Overview
Signifying the objective of copyright as being the step towards safeguarding the interest of a creator alongside the dispersal of knowledge, the protection that was rendered initially with recognizing and identifying the rights of authors in their books, is with time and evolution in technology, witnessing a major change in the nature of work and its mode of exploitation. Therefore, the association of monetary benefits and copyright work introduces the aspect of economic rights. The Copyright Act, 1957 as amended in 2012, sets quite the bandwidth for creators and authors for acquiring pecuniary benefits alongside success, in the process of encouraging continuous creativity and innovation from creators in the future.
When talking of assigning copyright, it certainly bears a purpose. That is, in this process, the assignee gets the right to exploit the innovation for a stipulated time within a particular region. The assignor, on the other hand, receives a royalty. The owner of the copyright of a work is vested with the authority to assign his copyright to another person. Thereafter, the assignee of the copyright becomes entitled to any right falling within the ambit of the copyright and shall be treated as the owner of the copyright in respect of those rights. When the owner of a copyright dies, if he dies intestate then his copyright passes on to his representatives. Section 18 thereafter, also goes on to throw light upon the aspect of an owner of copyright assigning the right in an existing work as well. As per Section 18, a prospective owner, the person who is not the first owner in the future work, can assign the copyright. But, again, as laid down by the proviso of this section, the assignment can only take place after that particular work comes into existence, not before that.
But assignment directly doesn't indicate an absolute assignment. The intention of the parties associated with the nature and extent of the assignment has to be worked out from the agreement. It was seen in the case of Saregama India Ltd. vs. Suresh Jindal (2007), that if an assignment has been made for a limited period in line with the agreement, then, one cannot contend on the basis of the assignment of copyright rendering absolute ownership for an unlimited period.
The conditions for assigning a copyright have been laid under Section 19 of the Copyright Act, 1957. It is quite significant to be aware of the fact that the assignment has to be rendered in writing and signed by the assignor or an authorized agent, otherwise, it shall not be valid. A careful reading of the agreement and straining out the intentions of the parties are quite crucial since the copyright grants are often misused by the owners.
Relinquishment of the copyright requires the author to give notice as per the set form to the Registrar of Copyrights or via public notice. The Registrar then publishes the notice in the Official Gazette or in a different way. Within 14 days from the publication of the notice in the Official Gazette shall post the notice on the official website so that it remains in the public domain for not less than 3 years. As per Section 21(1) and (2), the relinquishment of copyright shall not affect any pre-existing rights in favour of any person on the date of the notice. Section 21 goes on to provide the owner of a work the right to relinquish all or any of the rights in a work. Relinquishment indicates the handing over of the rights in the copyrighted work, also meaning the author would no more have the rights surrendered and cannot claim ownership over it. The author can determine the rights that they want to relinquish.