CIS-A2K/Documents/Wikipedians guide to Indian Copyright Act

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The terms "copyright", "copyleft", "copyright violation" etc. should be familiar to every Wikipedian. In this guide we'll focus on "Indian Copyright Act". India's copyright act is considered as one of the most updated copyright protection laws in the world. In this guide, we'll discuss the most important points and aspects of Indian copright acr, those we feel a Wikipedian should know.[1]

Brief introductionEdit

When we say "Indian copyright act" or "Indian copyright law", it actually means "Copyright Act of 1957". Currently all copyright-related legal works in India are governed by this atc. However this was not something completely new or fundamental. This act was based on "Copyright Act of 1914"(of British India). The newly created Copyright Act of the United Kingdom of 1956 was also used as reference to frame the 1957 Indian copyright act.[1]

There were six amendments in the copyright legislation after that— 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2012.[2] The amendments made in 1994 and also in 1999 are called "substantial ones".[1]


  • Q: What is a work?
  • A: According to Indian copyright act, a "work" might be any of the following things— Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, a cinematograph film, or a sound recording.
  • Q: What is the definition of— artistic work, musical work, cinematograph film, government work and Indian work?
  • A: Indian copyright act describes these terms as follows—
Term Description
Artistic work An artistic work is any of the following—
  • a painting
  • a sculpture,
  • a drawing (including a diagram, map, chart or plan),
  • an engraving or a photograph

While describing an "artistic work", its artistic quality is not assessed. A creation may be artistic work and might be copyrighted even if it does not have any artistic value (however it is difficult to universally conclude)

Musical work Musical work means any work consisting music (vocal or instrumental), in complete or incomplete state. It may include graphical notation as well.
Cinematograph work A "Cinematograph work" is a visual recording using a camera or any similar equipment. The accompanying soundtrack or audio are considered as part of this work as well.
Government work A government work is any work created by or published under—
  • the government or any of its department,
  • any Indian legislature
  • any court (eg. the Supreme court of India) or any judiciary of India
Indian work A work will be called Indian if—
  • the creator or author of it is an Indian (that her/his nationality) is Indian
  • if it is first published in India
  • for the unpublished works the creator or author was an Indian citizen at the time of its creation or making

Important aspectsEdit

  • Q: Who is the first owner of copyright?
  • A: The author of a work is its first copyright owner.
  • Q: Who is an author?
  • A: Author means creator — one who created a content.
If it is a musical work, the composer is the copyright owner
If it is a poem or story or novel (any literary work), the writer is the copyright owner
If it is a photography, the photographer is the copyright owner
If it is a cinematography or sound recording, the producer is the copyright owner
  • Q: What is copyright expiration?
  • A: However a copyright is acquired automatically, but the period is not unlimited. After a certain time, in India it is basically 60 years, the right is waived and it becomes a public domain content. This is called copyright expiration.

Indian copyright act and Creative CommonsEdit

Indian copyright act (1957) does not have any mention of "Creative Commons" anywhere in their document.

Frequently asked questionsEdit

In this section you'll find a list of "frequently asked questions" on Indian copyright act?

Public domain in India but not in the USEdit

Question: May I upload any content to Wikimedia Commons or any Wikipedia project that is in public domain in India but not in the US?
Answer: No, a content must be in public domain (or released under creative commons license) in both its home-land and in the US to be uploaded on Commons. For example, a book published in 1941 in India is in public domain there, but in the US it may not be in public domain. In this case you may see if it is under URAA

Published or releasedEdit

Question: Published or released, which is more important? Should I follow creation year or publication year?
Answer: Publication year is more important and we follow that on Wikimedia Commons (and more or less everywhere else). When we say a creation ( will be in public domain after 60 years, we mean publication year+60 years and not creation year+60 years. Let's try to explain this: a photograph may be kept private and may be released/published many years of its creation. Here we need to look for its publication year.

Does copyright need any registrationEdit

No, one does not need to make any registration or legal agreement to claim copyright. Any creation or work gets its copyright automatically.

However one may like to get a certificate of registration if they want. Such appeals should be made to the New Delhi Copyright office, B.2/W.3, C.R. Barracks, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi- 110 003, Phone number: +91 11 338 4387

Fun FAQsEdit

  • Music/MP3 sharing bluetooth: we often share latest movie songs and other music files and videos by bluetooth. We also store content in our mobiles or tablets. Some of these are surely copyright violation, specially if the license of the content reads something like— "the content cannot be stored, shared or sold to anyone else without copyright owner's permission."

See alsoEdit


  1. a b c Fernando. Business Environment:. pp. 503–. ISBN 978-93-325-0096-9. 
  2. Scaria, Arul George (15 May 2014). Piracy in the Indian Film Industry: Copyright and Cultural Consonance. Cambridge University Press. pp. 63–. ISBN 978-1-107-06543-7. 

External linksEdit