Copyright Registration – Meaning, Process & implementation.


Copyright is an essential tool that protects your intellectual property. More than just safeguarding the new works, it also ensures that creators receive its adequate compensation. Unlike patents and trademark, copyright registration is optional, but its law protects the expressions of ideas and not the idea itself. Nonetheless, getting a registration is ideal.

Copyright owners who register their works with the Copyright Office benefit from the rights and privileges that it offers. The registration allows the owner to sue for copyright infringement.

If litigation arises, the registration:

  • Establishes the validity and authenticity of the registrant’s rights over the work.
  • Allows the owner to claim damages and attorney fees.

The owner creating an original work gets the automatic right to claim authorship of the work, and the right to deny changes that may possibly harm the creator’s repute. One can claim such rights for original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form, whether published or unpublished. Such works include artistic works, literary works, sound recordings, and musical recordings. Copyrights are governed by the rules laid down in the Copyright Act of 1957. This article covers the concept of copyright registration in India, its scope and validity.

What is a Copyright?

Copyright is an intellectual property right that the creator owns for the created work. It can be a literary work like a book, or a musical recording. Only the author/ the creator is the first owner of the copyright. It provides the right to use and the authority to allow anyone else to use it.

The works protected under copyright are:

  • Artistic Work

Includes engravings, photographs, paintings, a work of architecture or artistic craftsmanship, dramatic works, etc.

  • Literary work

Includes books, computer programmes, compilations and computer databases, etc.

  • Musical Work

Songs, Graphical notations, etc.

  • Sound Recording
  • Cinematography

What is “original authorship” and how does the ownership change in different scenarios?

Original authorship is a term describing the original creator and owner of the copyright. The individual that creates an original creative work is the real owner of the work. But the ownership varies in different cases.

For Example:

  • If a magazine employs you to create content for them, the copyright of such a work will be with the proprietor of the magazine. This will be in relation to the publication or reproduction of that work. In all other aspects, the author is the copyright holder in absence of an agreement that says otherwise.
  • The government holds the copyright for any government work.
  • When a person works on a project for a public undertaking they will be the owner of the copyright unless there is an existing agreement that says otherwise. Thus, the ownership of the copyright varies in situations.

For how long does the copyright remain valid?

The copyright exists for a lifetime and an additional sixty years after the author’s death. If the author is anonymous, it will last sixty years from the date of publishing of the work. For other works, the term of copyright lasts sixty years from the date of publication of the material.

What is copyright infringement?

Any unauthorized use of the work would lead to infringement. Any illegal use, display or publication of the work done without the original owners’ permission is an infringement.

What are the owners’ rights?

The rights under copyright law are divided into two main sets of rights:

1. Economic Rights:

  • The right to reproduce

This right allows the owner to sell, give on hire, or make copies of the work.

  • The right to communicate the work to the public

The copyright holder has the right to make the work accessible to the public, i.e. either showcase, perform or publish the work.

  • The right to adapt and translate the work

The owner can revamp the work and publish it in different forms or through a different medium.

  • Right to claim for damages upon infringement

The owner has the right to stop any individual from using the work without permission. In case of infringement, the owner has a legal right to sue the person and claim damages for the use.

2. Moral Rights:

  • The right of paternity.

As the name suggests, the author has the exclusive right to prevent others from claiming any right over the copyright. The owner decides where and how to display or sell the work. And whom to give rights under assignment or licensing.

  • The right of integrity.

This is the right an owner to prevent any damage or unauthorized alterations to the work. And bar anything that can put the honour and reputation of the owner at risk.

What are the advantages of registration?

The following are the prime advantages of copyright registration in India:

• Proof of ownership

Registration establishes a public record i.e. a prima facie evidence, which makes it simpler to claim authority over the work.

• Filing a copyright infringement suit

The copyright registration gives the legal right to the owner to file a suit in case of infringement or stop a possible infringement.

• Right to assign

Once you are a registered owner you can assign or license the copyright without worrying of being conned.

• Right to claim statutory damages

When the copyright is registered, the court gets the authority to award special damages, attorney fees and legal cost incurred in a successful infringement suit. And the owner does not need to prove the actual damage caused.

What is a copyright assignment and licensing?

The copyright owner may assign the work to a third party in return for monetary compensation. The assignment is transferring ownership of the copyright to a third party. Assigning copyright does not necessarily give the assignee an absolute power, but a limited one. The assignment of the copyright will only hold valid if it is signed by the copyright owner or the agent on behalf.

Licensing means transferring some of the rights, that the copyright owner has to a third party. Here the ownership remains with the original holder. Licensing gives the third-party rights which allow them to sell and publish the work as per the contractual agreement.


Copyright registration is a means that enables the original owners to explore their creativity and reap monetary benefits from it. With a timely registration, the owner expands his rights and strengthens the protection over the work.

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