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Copyright Infringement in India

Copyright Infringement in India

The Copyright Act, 1957 gives protection to a piece of work by giving exclusive rights to the author. The idea behind giving such protection is to ensure that the owner gets the benefits of his labor. Thus, if a person uses any exclusive rights of the Copyright owner without his prior permission or license granted by the Registrar of Copyright, such use will be regarded as an infringement of the Copyright.

When is a Copyright Infringed?

 Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957 lays down a provision for infringement of the rights of the Copyright owner in India. They are divided into primary and secondary acts of infringement under section 51(a) and 51(b) respectively. They are as follows:

1.       Primary acts of infringement:

·         A person without the permission of the authorized owner does any act which only the copyright owner is entitled to do.

·         A person permits the use of any place to be used for the selling or communication of the infringed work to the public for profit. For example – The owner of an auditorium is liable if he rents out the auditorium for the communication of an infringed copyrighted work to the public.

2.       Secondary acts of infringement:

·         A person sells infringing copies of the work.

·         A person without prior permission of the owner distributes infringing copies of the work to trade or prejudicially affect the owner.

·         A person shows in public any infringing copies of the work.

The Doctrine of Fair Use

It is a legal notion that allows individuals to use any material safeguarded by the Act with restrictions in order to preserve the integrity and originality of the work as well as the registered proprietor of the work.

Remedies for Copyright Infringement

1.       Civil Remedy: If the copyright of any work has been infringed upon then the owner of the copyright is entitled to receive remedies by way of injunction and damages as per Section 55 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Injunctive relief prevents the defendant from replicating the work in the future. A preliminary injunction can be obtained early in the case to prevent copying while the case is being litigated. If a preliminary injunction is granted, the party seeking the injunction will almost always be required to post a bail or security for any potential damages to the enjoined party if it is later discovered, following a full trial, that the preliminary injunction was granted in error. Once the action is over and the court determines that copyright infringement has occurred, the preliminary injunction might be converted to a permanent injunction. The prevailing plaintiff may receive both his or her real damages and the defendant’s profits to the extent such earnings were not previously taken into account in calculating the actual damages under money damages.

2.       Criminal Remedy: The copyright owner can also initiate criminal proceedings against the infringer. The provision for which is at least 6 months of imprisonment, which may extend to 3 years with a fine. The same has been laid down in Section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

What are the penalties of copyright infringement?

The minimum punishment for copyright infringement in India is 6 months of imprisonment with a minimum fine of Rs. 50,000. In the case of a repeating offender, the minimum punishment is 1 year of imprisonment with a minimum fine of Rs. 1,00,000.

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