Feb 26, 2022

Do you need to Register a Copyright to protect your Work?

The Bombay High Court has said that registration of a copyright is not necessary to get protection under copyright law. Even if the copyright is not registered, the law will still protect the ownership over the work and punish anyone who violates it without permission.  


What is copyright?

Copyright is the exclusive right to do or allow something to be done concerning a:

  • Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work – For example, translating a literary work.
  • Cinematograph film (movie) – For example, selling a copy of a movie.
  • Sound recording – For example, communicating the sound recording to the public.


Who owns a copyright?


Type of work Owner of Copyright
Literary or dramatic work Author
Musical work Composer
Artistic work or photograph Artist or photographer
Cinematograph film or sound recording Producer
Computer-generated literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work  Person who created the work on the computer


The copyright owner can assign the copyright (fully or partially) to any person, along with any conditions.


How can a copyright owner register the copyright? 

A copyright owner can make an application with the specified fee to the Registrar of Copyrights to enter the details of their work in the Register of Copyrights. The Registrar might make an inquiry to decide whether to allow the application or not. However, if the Registrar denies the registration, a person can file an appeal  within three months to the Appellate Board.


Even if copyright owners do not register, whenever possible, they should put the copyright symbol © and identify themselves as the creator of the work with the date of creation. This makes it easier to prove a claim of copyright if needed. 


Can the copyright owner give up their copyright?

Yes, the copyright owner can give up their copyright (fully or partially) by giving a notice to the Registrar of Copyrights, or a public notice. Their copyright will stop existing from the date of the notice.


What can the copyright owner do if someone violates their copyright?

The owner of the copyright can approach the civil court to restrain the copyright violator from exploiting their work, and can even get monetary compensation.


The punishment for knowingly violating the copyright in a work is imprisonment for six months to three years, and a fine of Rupees fifty thousand to two lakh. However, if the violation is not for any commercial gain, the court might agree to imprisonment for less than six months or a fine of less than Rupees fifty thousand.