Copyright law of India

Copyright law of India

Copyright law in India covers the rights granted to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and the producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. These rights include the rights to reproduction of the work, communication of the work to the public, adapt or translation the work.


The current legislation governing copyright in India is The Copyright Act, 1957, which was last amended in 2012.

Copyright law in India can be traced back to its colonial era under the British Empire, when a modified version of the United Kingdom 1911Copyright Act was applied to India as the Indian Copyright Act, 1914. The Indian Copyright Act, 1914 is still applicable for works created prior to 21 January 1958 (when the current legislation came into force).

A full text of The Copyright Act

International Treaties

India is a member of the Berne Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention, the Rome Convention, and the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

India is not a member of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).

Duration of copyright

The duration of copyright protection under the Copyright Act 1957 is:

For literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works not listed below, the duration of copyright is the lifetime of the author plus sixty years. The period of sixty years is measured from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the author dies. e.g. if the author died during the year 2000 the work will fall into the public domain on January 1st 2061.

For the following works the duration of copyright is sixty years after the end of the year in which the work was first published; e.g. if the work was first published during the year 2000 the work will fall into the public domain on January 1st 2061.

  • Anonymous and pseudonymous works
    (except where the identity of the author is disclosed before the expiry date),
  • Posthumous work.
  • Photographs.
  • Cinematograph films.
  • Sound recordings
  • Government work & public undertakings.

Ownership of copyright

By default, without any agreement to the contrary, the author of a work is generally considered as the first owner of the copyright. Except where a work is made as part the author's employment, under a contract of service, or apprenticeship; in these cases the employer is normally the first owner of copyright in the work.

Foreign works

In accordance with the Berne Convention and Universal Copyright Convention, copyrights of works from other convention member countries are protected in India the same as works of Indian origin. This is stipulated in The International Copyright Order 1999.

Fair dealing

Fair dealing sets out conditions where certain actions can be performed on copyright works without infringing copyright.

Courts in India tend to take a rather pragmatic approach and tend to allow copying of materials where the use is intended to be educational or stimulate progress in the arts.

A particular use will normally seen as fair dealing if it is either:

  • private or personal use, such as for research study or educational use by a teacher or student,
  • criticism or review,
  • reporting of current events and current affairs
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