Copyright infringement in India

India defines copyright as: ‘Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. There could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work.’


Copyright infringement happens when the exclusive rights granted to the owner by the copyright laws have been violated. The following are some of the commonly known acts involving infringement of copyright:

    1. Making infringing copies for sale or hire or selling or letting them for hire;
    2. Permitting any place for the performance of works in public where such performance constitutes infringement of copyright;
    3. Distributing infringing copies for the purpose of trade or to such an extent so as to affect prejudicially the interest of the owner of copyright ;
    4. Public exhibition of infringing copies by way of trade; and
    5. Importation of infringing copies into India.

No infringement

Certain acts do not amount to copyright infringement.

A fair dealing with any work, not being a computer programme, for the purposes of—

  • private or personal use, including research;
  • criticism or review, whether of that work or of any other work;
  • the reporting of current events and current affairs, including the reporting of a lecture delivered in public;
  • any act in relation to the translation of a literary, dramatic or musical work or the adaptation of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work as they apply in relation to the work itself.

do not amount to copyright infringement in India.

Such use is permitted without the need to obtain permission from the copyright owner.


A copyright owner can take legal action against any person who infringes their copyrighted work. The copyright owner is entitled to civil remedies such as injunctions, damages, rendition of accounts of profits, delivery and destruction of infringing copies and damages for conversion.

Also, any person who knowingly infringes or abets the infringement of the copyrighted work commits criminal offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act. In this case as well, certain remedies are offered, such as imprisonment, fines, seizure of infringing copies and delivery of infringing copies to the owner. Other than this, the law provides for border enforcement by prohibiting of import and destruction of imported items that infringe the copyright, through customs authorities of India.

These remedies have to be sought within three years from the date of infringement. The owner can claim the litigation costs but the decision to award such costs is at the discretion of the court.

How can you prevent your Copyright from being infringed?

In today’s highly connected world, any degree of caution cannot assure an ‘infringer-free’ atmosphere, but it is certainty possible to take preventive measures such as:

  • the owner can document the instances of use and monitor the activities of regular violators; 
  • the owner should register their copyrighted work, especially if it is going to be used in India;
  • the owner should visibly copyright their work; 
  • independent contractors and employees should be subjected to discretion; 
  • licensing agreements should contain proper confidentiality mechanisms, etc.

For more information, please contact Miss Legal India.

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