Copyright Piracy in India

What is Copyright Piracy?

Copyright Piracy is a worldwide phenomenon which is defined as the unauthorized or illegal means of reproduction, distributing or importing the original work protected by copyright. Copyright piracy is a phenomenon prevalent worldwide. The author of a copyrighted work, has the ownership of the work and enjoys certain exclusive rights. The rights include;

  • To reproduce the piece of work.
  • To publish the copyrighted work.
  • To adopt, license and perform the work in public.

In case a third party who is not the copyright owner or is the authorized party, undertakes any of the above rights & carries on activities related to the work, it amounts to infringement of the copyright. It is a theft to the owner which leads to the loss of the rights and properties.

Piracy of Literary Works

The illegal reproduction of printed material in form of Print media which includes books, magazines etc is termed as Piracy of literary works. It is reproduced for distribution and selling of the same for profit illegally. There are three principal ways in which the piracy of literature is worked out in India:

  1. Reprinting of Text & Trade books by wholesalers.
  2. Illegal translations
  3. Photocopying of books/ journals for commercial use.

Piracy of Sound Recordings

This Industry is victim of three types of piracy;

  • The songs from different Cassettes/CDs are collected and combined in one single CD/cassette, which thereafter is given a different look and sold under original product category.
  • Counterfeiting is another form of piracy of sound recordings wherein songs are copied & produced in such a way that it looks near to original. These products are misleading for the buyers as they think it's the original song.
  • Bootlegging is the third form of piracy where illegal recordings of performance by artists are produced & reproduced to be sold in the market. These are carried on without the knowledge of the performers, composer or the recording company.

Piracy of Cinematographic Works

However it is not easy pirating a Cinematographic work as it is more complex in nature and includes a variety of copyrights in a single work and many a times the rights overlap each other. The 'theatrical right' i.e. the right to exhibit films in theatres is the initial copyright of a Film where the producer is the copyright holder. In order to exhibit in theatres the distributors buy theatrical rights from producers. These rights are limited by territory and time.

Piracy of Computer Software

The practice of copying and distributing computer programs without the permission of the copyright holder leads to piracy of computer programs. The rights lie with the software industry, for creation and distribution of computer programs. It is similar to writing a novel or other literary works and requires technological skills and training in software programming. A software can be created individually but it is generally a group effort where a team spends months to develop the complete program.


Piracy is a big problem in India and in recent times it has receive prominence in the academic and policy circles. It contributes to the economic loss of the owners.

The major reasons behind Copyright Piracy are;

  • Poor enforcement and lack of awareness on matters related to copyright.
  • The Copyright Laws of India are equivalent to that of the advanced countries, but it worth nothing unless implemented at the right situations.
  • The enforcement mechanism is weak in the country, even the professionals & legal person (Police personnel) who can play a major role does not have proper knowledge about the same.
  • India lacks adequate number of personnel delivering time & work only to copyright crimes alone.
  • The generic problems of law & order are given more importance whereas copyright related crimes are attached least priority.
  • Majority of the consumers are more concerned with the lower price and they are least bothered to check the copyright of the product or test the originality of it.
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