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Copyright is a right given by the law to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematography films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work.

Indian copyright law gives you various rights when it comes to protecting your property. However, copyright does not protect ideas, information or concepts. So in order to manage your intellectual property effectively and get the best out of it, you need to know exactly what is covered by copyright, how you can use it to your advantage, and what you need to do further to protect your intellectual property.

What exactly does copyright protect?

Indian copyright law provides you with exclusive rights to publish (digital or otherwise), control who can copy or perform your original work, and control who can make derivative works and attribution rights or authorize others to do so. Under the Indian Copyright Act, original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works are protected.

Intellectual property like original song lyrics, musical scores, academic articles, diagrams and movie scripts are protected under copyright if they are published in India or where they are unpublished or first published outside India, if the author is a citizen of India. Sound recordings and cinematography are protected as long as the copyright of some other work is not infringed while creating them. International material may also be protected by Indian Copyright Act.

So does what does original work mean?

In the case of Eastern Book Company & Ors vs. D.B. Modak & Ors, the Supreme Court of India held that:

The word original does not mean that the work must be the expression of original or inventive thought. For a work to be original, the work must not be copied from another work – that it should originate from the author.

With regards to compilation, originality is a matter of degree depending on the amount of skill, judgement or labour that has been involved in making the compilation.

Ideas are not protected by copyright.

Copyright exists in the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. Indian Copyright law does not recognize property rights in abstract ideas. This means that until you express your idea in a tangible form, you have no protection. When an idea is given embodiment in a tangible form it becomes subject of common law property rights which are protected by the courts at least when it can be said to be novel and new.

For example, if you were writing a business strategy or marketing plan, then the expression of the idea in words and any associated diagrams can be protected by copyright. However, copyright cannot prevent your competitor from implementing the idea in his business. Copyright protects the aesthetics and not the functional. In India, copyright automatically protects the expression from the time that it is created and no registration is required. However, copyright registration has its own advantages.

The copyright registration workflow has been put down for a better understanding:-


To sum it all up,

Copyright protects the expression, not the idea.
Copyright protection starts when recorded in tangible form.
If the work is not original then it is not protected by copyright.