Evolution of Copyright Laws in India

The Copyright Law of India was enacted by the British colony and like most of the acts of that time; it was an imitation of the English law.

The first copyright act of India was enacted in 1847, during the regime of East India Company. As per the act, the term of copyright was either, for the lifetime of author plus 7 years or 42 years. The government had the power to grant the publishing license after the death of the author if the owner of the copyright refused permission. All suits and infringement related to copyright came under the jurisdiction of the highest local civil court. The act was replaced by the copyright act of 1914.

The act of 1914 was the first ‘modern’ copyright law of India. It was the first law to include all works of art and literature under the ambit of copyright. It was a replica of the English law of 1911. It was done by the British to ease the passage of literature over colonial subcontinent. 

The Copyright Act of 1957 came into force on the 21st of January 1958 replacing the 1911 act. The act besides amending the copyright law also introduced milestone changes such as provisions for setting up copyright office under the control of Registrar of copyright for registration of books and other works of art. It also established a copyright board to deal with the disputes relating to copyright.


According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

According to the United States Copyright Law, (Title 17 of United States Code, Chapter 1, Section 102, Clause A) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:
(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; 

(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.

According to the India (The Copyright Act, 1957, Section – 14), Meaning of copyright.—For the purposes of this Act, “copyright” means the exclusive right subject to the provisions of this Act, to do or authorise the doing of any of the following acts in respect of a work or any substantial part thereof, namely\:—”

(a) in the case of a literary, dramatic or musical work, not being a computer programme,—

(i) to reproduce the work in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means;

(ii) to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation;

(iii) to perform the work in public, or communicate it to the public;

(iv) to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work.

(v) to make any translation of the work;

(vi) to make any adaptation of the work;

(vii) to do, in relation to a translation or an adaptation of the work, any of the acts specified in relation to the work in sub-clauses (i) to (vi);

(b) in the case of a computer programme, —

(i) to do any of the acts specified in clause (a); 2[(ii) to sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale or for commercial rental any copy of the computer programme: 2[(ii) to sell or give on commercial rental or offer for sale or for commercial rental any copy of the computer programme\:” Provided that such commercial rental does not apply in respect of computer programmes where the programme itself is not the essential object of the rental.]

(c) in the case of an artistic work,—

(i) to reproduce the work in any material form including depiction in three dimensions of a two-dimensional work or in two dimensions of a three-dimensional work;

(ii) to communicate the work to the public;

(iii) to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation.

(iv) to include the work in any cinematograph film;

(v) to make any adaptation of the work;

(vi) to do in relation to an adaptation of the work any of the acts specified in relation to the work in sub-clauses (i) to (iv);

(d) in the case of a cinematograph film, —

(i) to make a copy of the film including a photograph of any image forming part thereof;

(ii) to sell or give on hire or offer for sale or hire, any copy of the film, regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions;

(iii) to communicate the film to the public;

(e) in the case of a sound recording,—

(i) to make any other sound recording embodying it;

(ii) to sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire, any copy of the sound recording, regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions;

(iii) to communicate the sound recording to the public. Explanation.— For the purposes of this section, a copy which has been sold once shall be deemed to be a copy already in circulation.]

Registration Procedure for Copyright

According to the Chapter VI of the Copyright Rules,

  1. Application for registration is to be made on form IV.
  2. Separate application should be made for registration of each work.
  3. Each application should be accompanied by the prescribed fees as mentioned in the rules.
  4. The application must be signed by the applicant or Power of Attorney or the advocate in whose favour a Vakalatnama. The Power of Attorney signed by the party and accepted by the advocate should be enclosed.

Each and every column of the Statement of Particulars should be replied in future. The copy of manuscript has to be sent along with the application. Copyright registration fees ranges from Rs. 400 to Rs. 600 for each work. Copyrights of works of the countries mentioned in the International Copyright Order are protected in India.

Copyrights of the countries who are the members of the Berne Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic works, Universal Copyright Convention and TRIPS agreement are protected in India. Copyright provided by the Indian Copyright Act is valid only within the borders of the country.

To secure protection to Indian works in foreign countries, India has become a member of Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works, Universal Copyright Convention, Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorized Duplication of their Phonograms, Multilateral Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Copyright Royalties and Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.


In my view, the Indian economy is developing with the interest of new innovative ideas and young start-up ideas hence it needs to be protected by the Laws. The Intellectual Property Rights plays an important role for the protection of the interest our developing society ideas and Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks, Geographical Indications must be filed or registered Internationally. IPR can encourage the innovators and creators with the protection of their ideas of creative.


  5. Books on Law relating to Intellectual Property Rights by V.K. Ahuja

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.


Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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