Civil remedies for Copyright Infringement

The Copyright Act, 1957 provides for the following remedies in case of copyright infringement- civil remedies, criminal remedies, and administrative remedies. This article discusses, in brief, the civil remedies available against copyright infringement.

Copyright implies a set of exclusive legal rights vested with a creator of original work, including the right to publish and economically exploit their work, the right to reproduce his work and broadcast it to the public. Any person who reproduces/ duplicates/ communicates the work without the owner's consent is guilty of copyright infringement.

Copyright Infringement under the Act

Section 51 of the Act lays down the instances in which copyright is deemed to be infringed. Copyright infringement generally occurs when any person, without the owner's consent, does any act that violates the copyright owner's exclusive rights and derives any monetary benefits out of such acts. 
Examples of copyright infringement include the adaptation of a book into a cinematographic film or the translation of a Hindi poem into an English poem without the copyright owner's consent. 

Remedies available for Copyright Infringement

The following remedies are available for copyright infringement under the Act:
Civil Remedies: Injunctions, damages, interpretation of accounts, delivery, and destruction of infringing copies.

Criminal Remedies: Imprisonment, fines, seizure, and delivery of infringing copies.
Administrative Remedies: a ban on imports of infringing goods and destruction of any imported infringing copies.

Civil Remedies for Copyright Infringement

Most owners of copyright in case of copyright infringement prefer obtaining civil remedies. Any aggrieved person can institute any suit or civil proceedings for copyright infringement before a District Court. Civil remedies are enumerated under Section 55 of the Act and include the following:

  • Interlocutory Injunctions: The most important civil remedy for copyright infringement is the grant of an interlocutory injunction. An injunction is granted to the plaintiff only in cases when the following requirements are meant: (a) a prima facie case; (b) balance of convenience; and (iii) an irreparable injury.

  • Pecuniary Remedies: Section 55 and 58 of the Act provide the following pecuniary remedies:

    1. Accounts of profits: the right of the copyright owner to claim the profit made by the infringer.
    2. Compensatory damages: the right of the copyright owner to claim damages for any loss he may have suffered due to the infringement of his work.
    3. Conversion damage: the right to claim damages based on the full value of the article converted.
  • Anton Piller Orders: An Anton Pillar Order derives its name from the Court of Appeals decision in Anton Piller A.G. vs. Manufacturing Processes ([1976] Ch55) and has the following elements: injunction restraining the defendant from dealing with infringed work or destroying them; and order permitting the plaintiff’s agents to enter the premises of the defendants, conduct searches and retrieve any infringed goods into their safe custody; and
    3.An order directing the defendant to disclose the names and addresses of any suppliers and/or customers with whom the defendant may have done any business using the infringed goods.

    However, such an order is granted only in extreme circumstances.
  • Mareva Injunction: Under this remedy, an order is passed to temporarily freeze the defendant's assets pending a hearing, thus preventing the defendant from frustrating the judgment by disposing such assets.
  • Norwich Pharmacal Order:These orders are commonly granted in online infringement cases to determine relevant information from third parties to support any evidence presented before the court by either the plaintiff or the defendant. In India, one of the first Norwich Pharmacal Order was passed in the case of Souza Cruz v. N.K. Jain (PTC (Suppl.) (2) 892 Del).  

Although the Indian Copyright is not as developed as the American Copyright law, the Copyright Act has sufficient remedies to safeguard the interests of a copyright owner in case of a copyright infringement.

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