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Copyright Issues In Digital Media

Author: Bhavya

Student, The ICFAI University, Dehradun

Abstract : Due to advancement and growth in the technology the importance of intellectual property in digital media or online medium has gained wide importance . And its important to know about what all sort of digital media can be copyrighted and what all remedies can be availed off in case of copyright infringement in digital media. Generally when we first talk about copyright then the first and foremost thing that comes to mind is that it is granted to original literary, artistic or dramatic work but the growth of technology has widened the scope of copyright protection and now it is granted to software programs, database and information available on the internet which passed the test of creativity and originality and the works belong exclusive to the author then in such case copyright protection can be granted. So it is necessary to know more about copyright with regard to computer programs, software, computer databases and various work in cyber space. This paper aims to provide information in copyright protection granted to digital media and issues related to the infringement in the digital media.

What is Copyright under Intellectual Property ?

Copyright is one of the intellectual property rights that is granted to the creator of any work which are subject to copyright under section 13 of The Copyright Act,1957 to prevent its duplication, reproduction or other form. If we break the word copyright that it is divided into two word copy and write so it is the right to copy but this right exclusively belongs to the owner creator of work and all those person what authorised by the creator or the owner to use that work the objective of the copyright is two fold first objective is to give assurance to the author creator artist composer of their work that there intellect sweet hard work they put is protected and exclusively belong to them and other one is to increase the other people to come up with new idea by applying their human intellect the subject matter which is protected by copyright is called work and this is mention under section 13 of the copyright act 1957. Works in which copyright subsists[1].—

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section and the other provisions of this Act, copyright shall subsist throughout India in the following classes of works, that is to say,—

(a) original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works;

(b) cinematograph films; and

(c) 1[sound recording].

(2) Copyright shall not subsist in any work specified in sub-section (1), other than a work to which the provisions of section 40 or section 41 apply, unless,—

(i) in the case of a published work, the work is first published in India, or where the work is first published outside India, the author is at the date of such publication, or in a case where the author was dead at that date, was at the time of his death, a citizen of India;

(ii) in the case of an unpublished work other than work of architecture, the author is at the date of the making of the work a citizen of India or domiciled in India;

(iii) in the case of work of architecture, the work is located in India.

Explanation.—In the case of a work of joint authorship, the conditions conferring copyright specified in this sub-section shall be satisfied by all the authors of the work.

(3) Copyright shall not subsist—

(a) in any cinematograph film if a substantial part of the film is an infringement of the copyright in any other work;

(b) in any sound recording] made in respect of a literary, dramatic or musical work, if in making the 1[sound recording], copyright in such work has been infringed.

(4) The copyright in a cinematograph film or a 1[sound recording] shall not affect the separate copyright in any work in respect of which or a substantial part of which, the film, or, as the case may be, the 1[sound recording] is made.

(5) In the case of [work of architecture], copyright shall subsist only in the artistic character and design and shall not extend to processes or methods of construction

The subject matter of copyright are original literary work, original dramatic work, original musical work, original artistic work, cinematographic film and sound recording.

Original literary work include the written work which can be exclusively expressed in written form that is created out of human intellect by applying skills, creative mind, hard work. Literary work include books, poem ,article, novel ,judgement, case analysis and also include computer programs, tables and compilation including computer data bases.

Dramatic work include any piece of recitation, choreographic work or entertainment in the dumb show, stand up comedy but does not include cinematographic film. Artistic work include any painting, drawing, sculpture also include the architecture and artistic craftmanship. Cinematographic films include any work of visual recording and a sound recording accompayning such visual recording. Musical work means any work consisting of Music and includes only graphical notion of such work but does not include any words or any action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with music .Copyright is a negative right which is exclusively given to the owner of such work as it gives right to the owner of such work and it prevents others from using the same. The right given to the copyright-holder is mainly of two types -- economic right and model right which is given to copyright-holders under section 14 of The Copyright Act, 1957.

Copyright protection in digital media or subject matter of copyright in digital media:

Database : It means compilation of work, data or other material in proper sequential, systematic manner by applying any logical principle or methodological way.[2] The copyright should be granted to database, as the arrangement of data or other material involves skill, creativity and effort, so if there is creativity other than mere variation then copyright should be granted to such database. In India database has been given copyright protection under section 2 (o) of The Copyright Act, 1957 :

[(o) “literary work” includes computer programmes, tables and compilations including computer databases. The term computer database has been defined in the Indian legal system for the first time in the Information Technology Act 2000 under section 43. Explanation (ii) as a representation of knowledge facts being prepared or have been prepared in formalised manner or having produced by computer system.

Software program:

Software program refers to the instruction given to the computer for working and the instruction is in the form of codes that the computer understands. These are distinguishable from hardware the physical object that make up a computer system. Section 2(ffc)[3] define computer program as a set of instruction expressed in words, codes, schemes or in any other form read; with section 2 (o) definition literary work includes computer program, tables and compilations including computer databases so it is clear that the software program comes under computer program and it is very well protected as literary work under section 2 (o) of Copyright Act, 1957. Copyright protects the effort and hard work of the author and therefore the copyright of software program recognizes creativity in the court formation.

Copyright and internet:

Copyright design and Patent Act 1988 does not contain the word internet or digital. Indian Copyright Act, 1957 deals with protection of computer software and the amendment made in The Copyright Act, 1957 in 2012 also fails to give a definition of digital work or internet as we know the subject matter of copyright given under section 13 of The Copyright Act, 1957 provides for work over which copyright can be granted and the work includes literary work so the literary work, dramatic work, artistic work and musical work which are available on the internet and which pass the test of creativity will be granted copyright protection under section 13 of Copyright Act, 1957 and the creator of such work will also be granted economic and model right under section 14 of the copyright act 1957.

Copyright issues in digital media and copyright works on the Internet include news stories, images, graphics, eBooks, screenplay videos, short videos. As an ocean of information is available on the internet, it is difficult to determine whether the work is original or a duplicated one; infringement of copyright in cyber space and digital media. Digital environment is the form of first downloading and uploading, it means creating a copy or reproducing the copy of the material which is available on the internet so whenever you create a copy of the work available on the internet, which is copyrighted, without taking permission from the original creator that amounts to copyright infringement.

Derivative work: If two or more programs on which copyright protection is granted then compilation or assembling of such work would amount to copyright infringement.

Hot linking : It is showing or exhibiting an image on websites so as to create impression in the mind of the third party that the website is linked to a famous website which hosts that image.

Audio Video Work: Copying an audio or video file through companies that are involved in peer to peer file sharing of any digital music shall amount to violation.

Multimedia: Multimedia encompasses or covers different category of materials like text, audio, video images, graphic presentation and others. Generally copyright protection is available to multimedia under literary, artistic or musical work. Infringement in multimedia occurs through copying the work of a creator without his permission, creating print of literary or artistic work without prior permission of the creator.

Case law on infringement in Digital Media : Warner Brothers Entertainment v. & Ors. (June1, 2022)

Facts of the case

The plaintiff is a global entertainment company of the USA and is engaged in the business of creation, production and distribution of motion pictures and the defendant number 1 has 51 rogue sites, these are those websites which are set up for malicious purpose and for deceiving public.

Contention of the Plaintiff

The contention of the plaintiff is that their work being cinematographic film and as it is the subject matter of copyright under section 13 of Copyright Act, 1957 and the defendant number 1 which is involved in illegal and unauthorised distribution broadcasting of the Plaintiff’s content on their website.

Order of the Court

The Delhi high court granted a permanent injunction in the favour of global entertainment company Warner brothers while restraining rogue Torrent website from distributing and broadcasting its content.


As we know all the technological advancements have widened the scope of opportunity in the digital media and has given the opportunities to the creators to showcase their work but still there is lot of copyright infringement happening daily so at the national level structure enforcement mechanism should be adopted and also awareness needs to be created to ensure the protection of work in digital media.


3. [1] The Copyright Act ,1957 ,No.14 , Act Of Parliament,1957 [2] Alok Kumar Yadav , Copyright in Digital Media , Journal Of Intellectual Property Right , No.12 [3] The Copyright Act ,1957, No.14, Act of Parliament

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