Is Copyright Registration necessary in India?

19th Dec 2011
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Lawyers from VakilSearch give you the answers

We get asked very often at vakilsearch.com about copyright inIndia. We thought we would put some doubts to rest by giving you some practical insights on Copyright in India.

When do you get a copyright?

As per the Copyright law, you get a copyright the moment you create an original literary or artistic work. For instance, if you write a short story which has not been written before, and have it published on your blog, you own the copyright over it the moment you write it.

What if you write a short story and send it to the Hindu Young World or some other magazine? In that case, who gets the copyright depends on the agreement between you and the magazine. In most cases, when you write something, you get to retain the copyright over it.

In the case of books however, the situation is a bit different. Many publishers get the copyright from the author when the author signs an agreement with the publisher. This allows the publisher to publish multiple editions, translate the book into other languages and use excerpts from the book to promote itself (the publisher) or other books.

Does the publisher automatically get a copyright?

No, the publisher does not automatically get a copyright on the content you produce. You have to sign what is called a copyright assignment agreement, where you assign the copyright to the publisher.

Remember: Once you assign the copyright to the publisher, you have no rights over it. Unless the publisher re-assigns the copyright to you, you permanently lose all rights over it. So be careful when you assign the copyright to someone, because you are in effect giving away control over your creative work.

Is there an alternative?

Yes, it is better to license the copyright to someone else rather than assigning it. By licensing the publisher to use your copyright, you get a royalty for every book published, and if you wish to switch over to some other publisher or self-publish, you can do that too.

What if the publisher insists of getting the copyright?

If your publisher refuses to a copyright licensing arrangement, then at least make sure that you get a high assignment fee. Assignment fees for books on subjects of popular interest should be nothing less than Rs. 50,000. If you are writing on a very popular topic (like a biography of Anna Hazare), make sure you get atleast Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh for your efforts.

What happens if I don’t register my copyright?

First, to clear the air, you do not need to register your copyright.

Copyright is a right you get the moment you create anything original. So just write away! Remember to affix a simple © followed by your name, the date and place just to leave your mark on the content.

For example, © Gautam Menon, 2011. All rights reserved. (Published at Bengaluru on 16-12-2011).

We will be following this up with another piece specifically on copyright for Computer Programmes, so stay tuned. YourStory.in readers can now use IPR10 to get a 10% discount on legal advice and other services on vakilsearch.com!

About VakilSearch

VakilSearch is India’s leading online legal services provider for businesses and individuals. As the official partner of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and knowledge contributor to Sulekha.com, the Hindu Business Line, Entrepreneur Magazine and the All India Rubber Association, VakilSearch reaches out to thousands of businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals on a regular basis. So when you visit vakilsearch.com, you can be assured of quality legal guidance and comprehensive documentation for your business and personal needs, at affordable prices.

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