Importance of Copyright Registration

Copyright is a set of rights available to the owner/ author of a work as soon as the author creates the work. However, such rights are limited if the copyright is not registered. In India, the Copyright Act of 1957 governs copyrights' provisions, registration, protection, and enforcement.

Registration of copyright under the Act inter alia provides the following benefits:

1. Public record of ownership.
2. Presumption as to ownership.
3. Right to file a suit for infringement of copyright.  

A copyright protects an original literary, artistic, musical, or dramatic work, including books, cinematographic films, architectural drawings, paintings, software, and songs. However, copyright law does not protect ideas, and therefore, the work must be tangible for copyright to exist. As soon as the work is put into a tangible form, copyright protection automatically applies, and no further action is required. 

In India, copyright is protected under the provisions of the Copyright Act and grants the author of the work the following exclusive rights: 

1. Right to reproduce, distribute or publish the work;
2. Right to make copies of the work; 
3. Right to make derivatives of the work;
4. Right to perform or communicate the work to the public;
5. Right to broadcast or display the work to the public

In addition, the author also has the right to sell or license any of the rights listed above. 
One question that may have come to your mind is that if copyright exists as soon as a work is created, one must incur additional expenses to get it registered under the Copyright Act. As per the Copyright Act, the following benefits are available only to the registered owner of the copyright: 

  • Public record of ownership: Once a copyright is registered, it is published in the Register of Copyrights, a public document, thereby creating a public record of ownership. This is important as a person is required to prove ownership of work. If his work is challenged in court, and such records help, show the court that the certificate holder owns the work. 
  • Presumption as to ownership: As per Section 48 of the Act, the Register of Copyright is prima facie evidence of ownership of a copyright and the facts stated within the Register. In other words, it means that the ownership of the copyright is presumed, and any person seeking to challenge such ownership will have the burden to prove otherwise. 

  • Ability to enforce copyright by filing a suit for infringement of copyright: As per the Copyright Act, an unregistered owner of a copyright cannot file a suit for infringement. Registration under the Act is a pre-requisite for filing a suit of infringement, as the Register of Copyrights is prima facie evidence of ownership. 
  • Right to obtain statutory damages, attorney fees and costs of proceedings/ suit: Only a registered owner of a copyright has the right to obtain statutory damages, attorney fees, and costs of suits as per the provisions of the Copyright Act. If such work is not registered, then the owner of such work can only seek damages for actual loss. Therefore, registration will help the owner save a considerable amount of money.
  • Right to obtain administrative remedies: Registration of copyright gives the owner a right to obtain various legal remedies, including the right to obtain a ban on import of infringing goods and destruction of any imported infringing copies, in case of any unauthorized use by a person of the rights granted to a copyright owner under the Act.

While registration is not required for the legal protection of copyright, registration provides the above important benefits. Therefore, registering copyright under the Copyright Act is important for availing such benefits. 

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