top of page
  • Writer's pictureIPTT Team


Updated: May 6, 2020


Copyright, also known as ‘author’s right’ is a legal term used to describe the right which a creator has over his literary or artistic creation. The term ‘Copyright’ has been defined as an exclusive right to do or authorize the doing of any work defined under this section, like to reproduce any work for storage in any electronic medium, to perform the work in public, to issue copies for circulation, for adaptation or translation of any work etc., [1].

Characteristics of Copyright:

The essential characteristics of Copyright are that it leads to the creation of new statute. A copyright is granted and protected under a separate act known as The Copyright Act, 1957. There is no common law which addresses the issue of Copyright [2]. Also, under the Copyright Act, it is said that no copyright exists in any work unless registered under this act [3]. Secondly, a Copyright is not a single but a bunch of various rights in the same work. For example, in case of a literary work, it contains right to reproduction, right to translation, right to adaptation, right to public performance any many more. Thus, a under the broad ambit of copyright, several rights are granted simultaneously. Thirdly, the work must be original in nature. This is one of the essential characteristics of copyright. There cannot be any claim on any similar works [4]. Lastly, Copyright exists on the expression of idea and not the mere idea. There should be some form of expression of the work to get a Copyright. It was declared by Court that the person who gave an expression of idea will be the owner of copyright [5].

Subject matter of Copyright:

There are several fields of intellectual creativity where Copyright is applicable. They are, [6] Literary works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspaper articles, Computer programs, databases, Films, musical compositions, and choreography, Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture, Architecture; and Advertisements, maps, and technical drawings. Each of them has separate and distinguished term for copyright but in general, the term is 60 years from the death of author. After that, the protected work goes into public domain. There are several other subheadings and different time period for each of the, like joint authorship, anonymous works, posthumous works etc.

Rights and their protection under Copyright:

Under broad heading, there are two rights conferred under copyright act. They are Economic rights and Moral rights of the author. These includes various other rights such as Right of Reproduction, Right to Reproduce, Right to make Derivative work, Right to Public Performance, Right to follow, Right to Paternity and Sui Generis rights. Copyright law adequately protects the rights of the copyright owners. The law has kept pace with the changing times and has accommodated a number of new things in its ambit, including digital reproduction and sui generis rights. India has also risen up to the challenge and updated its copyright law from time to time [7]. There are several civil and criminal remedies available for infringement of copyright like Interlocutory order, Pecuniary remedies, Anton Pillar order, Mareva Injunction, John Doe order etc., [8]. There are several other criminal remedies available under this Act. [9]

Case Reference:

Vanilla Ice v. David Bowie/Freddie Mercury is a landmark music copyright infringement case where Robert Matthew Van Winkle, also known as Vanilla Ice, an American rapper in the year 1990 had come up with an album ‘To The Extreme’ which contained a song named ‘Ice Ice Baby’ which was discovered to have been used as the guitar background of the song ‘Under Pressure’ by David Bowie and Freddie Mercury (Queen) without crediting the band. This led David Bowie and the singer Freddie Mercury sue Vanilla Ice for the copyright infringement of their song. At first, Vanilla Ice claimed that although he had taken the guitar riff, it was altered, so there was no infringement of copyright. But after facing the lawsuit, Vanilla Ice agreed that he had indeed copied the guitar background. The case was settled privately out of court where the accused paid an undisclosed amount to the aggrieved party for the parts of the song taken [10].

[1] Section 14 of The Copyright Act, 1957.

[2] Manojah Cine Production vs A. Sudarshan, AIR 1976 Mad 22

[3] Section 16 of The Copyright Act, 1957

[4] Jagdish Prasad Gupta vs Parmeshwar Prasad Singh, AIR 1966 Pat. 33

[5] Donogh vs Allied Newspaper Ltd. (1973) 3 All 503

[6] Section 13(1) of The Copyright Act, 1957

[7] Accessed on 17th January, 2019 at 7:00 PM)

[8] Section 55 of Copyright Act, 1957

[10] Vanilla Ice vs Queen & Bowie (1991)

Prepared by:
Sukanya Mukherjee (BA LL.B, Sem 8, ALSK), Shabnam Parveen (BA LL.B, Sem 4, ALSK), Torsa Min Bahar(BBA LL.B, Sem 2, ALSK), Shoronya Banerjee(BA LL.B, Sem 2, ALSK).

94 views0 comments


bottom of page