Digital Copyright Laws- A Veiled Reality?

Blog authored by V. Krishna Laasya, a law student from School of Excellence in Law, Tamilnadu Dr. Ambedkar Law UniversityChennai

Introduction

Copyrights under the Indian Law are governed by the Copyright Act, 1957. The reference to a copyright is made to a bundle of rights vested with the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. Producers of films and sound recordings are also eligible to be governed by the Indian Copyright Act.

The copyright is not restricted to mere protection, but also covers the right of work reproduction, communication of work to the public and adaptation of the work in various fields or languages.

Under the Indian Law, protection is granted for the individual work of the author during his/her lifetime and 60 years after the same.

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry govern the administration of IPR.

In India, there is inception of the digital era and after the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, there is an increasing need to be technologically sound and advanced.

Thus, the possibility of a rise in the copyright issues[1] are more often than not, caused by-

  • Issues related to the computer namely, computer software, programs, databases etc.
  • Reproduction, adaptation of work through the digital media.
  • Copyright regulation and control over the digitalized medium.

Work and Adaption

It is to be considered that, the Indian Copyright Act having been passed in 1957 would not be at par with the current scenario. Thus, there is a need for several amendments, numerous changes and various adaptations.

Computer Software, programs, databases- Governance and Regulation

This issue must be placed greater emphasis on, because of the debate regarding the same in the international community for many decades.

The governance of such computer software and program under the copyright act has been advanced as per the international standards where “computer programs whether source or object shall be protected as a factor of literary work under the purview of the Berne Convention[2].

It is to be considered that sui generis system of administration would be better as incorporation of a generalized system at the discretion of the countries would prove to be a benefit for the computer software.

Copyright management

Copyright has proved to be a revolution in the digital medium. Though the management of the copyright has turned to be a burden, reproduction and distribution is comparatively easier. Copyrighted copies are now easier to be spread and transmit at amazing speeds and this has opened up more software’s to check the infringement and works that are violating the particular copyright obtained.

Today, Artificial Intelligence has reached a new footing and this, along with the use of encryption and Blockchain technology will be used to prevent any kind of exploitation of the copyright.

World Co-operation Treaty has provided measures to make governing of a copyright compulsory to all members in such a way that the States provide legal standing and effective remedies for copyright infringement in such a way that the copyright authors can exercise their copyrighted issues easily and freely.

Inference

It is to be noted that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 1998 passed by the Government is a move towards influencing Copyright Law towards its adaption to the Digitalized economy. However, the need to circumvent is lacking and this proves to be a difficult feature indeed.

The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 states that a fair use may be made of such copyright for say, educational purposes. Though this is limited to the ambit of research purpose (private use) or for reviewing the original work and giving a suggestion for the same, it proves a difficult measure for the enablement of digitalization.

Storage of the work made in an e-format may be made especially for the provisions stipulated and this has an effect of computer program storage not considered an infringement[3].

Thus, Copyright though discussed elaborately through the lens of registration, remedies and objections under the Copyright Act, many more amendments must be brought in to be at par with the global standards and the intricacies of technological advancements.


[1] For the onset of Copyright Issues and use in a digitalized environment, see Indian Copyright Law and Digital Technologies published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Rights at Docs Manupatra Vol 7, pp 423-435 by TC James. Last accessed on 25 Sep 2020.

[2] For Computer program and the explanation thereof, see Discussions at the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations- Article 10.1 of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS).

[3] For Emerging Trends in Copyright Law, see < http://lawtimesjournal.in/emerging-trends-digital-copyright-law-india/#:~:text=The%20Internet%20enables%20the%20nearly,speed%20dissemination%20of%20copyrighted%20works.&text=Government%20of%20India%20in%201998,of%20Digital%20Technology%20at%20present%20 >. Last accessed n 25 Sep 2020. 

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