Remember school and college days where teachers constantly scolded us for copying other’s answer? Now imagine another similar situation wherein you worked hard for a project and the other person copies it. Consequently, that other person scores better than you and in the eyes of the teacher, you become an under-performer. The law of intellectual property rights (IPR) relates to these situations only. It protects and promotes properties or assets which come into existence through an application of mind. It makes sure that the ‘sweat of your brow’ gets the rewards and respect it deserves. Moreover, it develops an environment of innovation, research and development. Copyright is one such intellectual property right. So, it is important to know the advantages of copyright registration.
This is because piracy is increasing at an alarming rate. So, if your work falls under the purview of copyright, it is of critical importance to apply for copyright registration.
We witness intellectual properties in various ways around us. The name of a car, the logo of an ice-cream shop, a unique hair-drying machine or a delicious cooking recipe, IPR is all around us.
In legal terms, it is bifurcated into different areas such as trademark, copyright, patent, design, trade secret etc.
The present blog will deal will copyright. More specifically, it aims to convey why one should apply for copyright registration.
Before getting to know the advantages of copyright registration, let’s first understand what copyright is. In simple words, a copyright is an exclusive right accorded to the creator or owner of an original work.
This work can be anything from an artwork to a book or song. There is a two-fold test to know whether it is possible to copyright a work or not.
Two-Fold Test for Copyright
One, the work should be original. It should have been independently created, without copying or misusing the idea of someone else.
Secondly, it should be a tangible form of an idea. This means that you cannot copyright your idea but only the expression of that idea.
Registration of a copyright is another concept. It deals with filing an application for the protection of the work to a government authority. In turn, the examiner will scrutinize the work on questions of law as well as fact.
Accordingly, it is granted registration or objected/rejected due to some irregularities in the application.
In India, copyright registration is not mandatory. The reason for this can be traced back to Berne Convention. The Convention states that protection of copyright should not be dependent on its registration. It clarifies that the work should not be subject to any formalities such as registration, deposition of a fee, putting the © symbol, etc.
Thus, it is a common legal understanding that copyright in a work subsists as soon as it comes into existence.
Related: Can You Copyright Fashion Designs?
Advantages of Copyright Registration
Since registration of copyright is not mandatory, authors and artists often face the dilemma of whether or not to obtain a copyright registration.
For this, we need to understand the difference (in terms of protection under the law) between an unregistered and a registered work.
Broadly, the protection in respect of both and unregistered and registered works is the same (such as action and remedies in case of an infringement). However, there are plenty of advantages of copyright registration.
In other words, we can say that it is easier to protect a registered work in comparison to an unregistered work. There is a whole host of reasons for the same.
Related: Copyright Societies in India
Below are some of the most significant advantages of copyright registration.
I. Recognition of your hard work
The copyright registry provides a platform where our work receives legal recognition as well as sanctity. In turn, your name is embedded as the author, owner (or as a holder of any other interest in the work).
In case of any dispute, copyright registration helps us with the availability of necessary records. These records may prove to be useful in situations where the following important questions arise.
- Time of creation of work.
- Right holders involved.
- Nature of rights.
III. Revenue Generation
This is one of the most important advantages of copyright registration.
Protection of work is easier once it receives legal sanctity. Meaning thereby that the owner can use, share, and distribute it with more authority. It helps to spread your work without any apprehensions of piracy of work. The more your work reaches out to public, the more you earn.
Thus registration of copyright is an effective way to enforce you economic rights.
Here is an illustration to understand the above point. A production house making a movie can get the copyright registration of the movie in its name. By virtue of this exclusive ownership on record, it can prevent illegal sharing, distribution, reproduction and communication of his work in public. Any entity/individual who tries to copy his work cannot do so without express permission. This will ensure that the production house receives adequate rewards in lieu of allowing others to publish/use its work.
IV. Clarity of rights
Registration helps us in better understanding of nature and extent of rights. It clarifies the following aspects relating to the work.
- Duration of protection.
- Other right holders in the work.
- Extent of rights of each right-holder.
V. Convenience in assignment and licensing of rights
Through registration of copyright, the owner puts on record the name of the people with authority to assign and/or license (in addition to the owner) as well as the extent of these rights. This helps better transactional work related to copyrights.
VI. Assignment v/s Licensing
At this point it is also important to understand the difference between assignment and license.
Assignment of copyright means transfer of your ownership in the work. Licensing means giving permission to do certain acts in relation to your work while retaining the ownership.
Let us understand this by an example. Mr. John, an author approached BookWorks Ltd., a publishing house for publication of his book ‘Spoken English Made Easy’. Now as per the terms of the contract between the two parties, the Publisher may file for registration of copyright of this book.
In the application, Mr. John’s name shall be mentioned as the author while BookWorks Ltd shall be the owner.
However, if the author wants, he can give license to the publisher for publication of his work as an e-book (soft-copy only). Meaning thereby, while the exclusive right to print the soft copy of the book will be with the publisher, the author will still hold the right to publish the hard copy.
On the other hand, assignment will give the publisher the right to publish soft as well as hard copies of the work. The author will only retain the moral rights in respect of the work.
So, while filing for copyright registration, there must be a clear distinction of rights between author and publisher. After registration, the ownership receives legal sanctity.
VII. Conclusive proof of Ownership
In case of an infringement of a copyright, when the issue concerns the ownership of the work, registration acts as a saviour. There is no better proof of ownership than a copyright registration certificate. Since the copyright office grants the certificate of registration after through scrutiny, it acts as a conclusive proof or evidence of ownership before the court.
In case of a work involving multiple artists, authors and contributors, a copyright registration helps us in multiple ways. It helps in knowing extent of a right from an individual’s perspective.
For instance, you may be the owner but not necessarily the author of a work.
A copyright registration certificate will specify the name of the author as well as the owner, thereby leaving no scope for confusion.
IX. Preventing overlap of IP rights
This is interesting to understand.
For example, if you apply for copyright registration of a logo as an artistic work, you need to obtain a no-objection certificate from the Trademark Office first. This ensures that no similar mark is already in existence or there is no pending application for registration of a similar logo.
Similarly, if you want to copyright a design which is capable of registration under Designs Act, 2000, you need to submit an affidavit on record. The affidavit should state that the work is neither registered nor applied for registration under Designs Act.
This is done in compliance with a provision under Copyright Act, 1957. It states that once you use a design on an article and reproduce it more than 50 times, the copyright in that work will no longer exist. Doing this prevents dual IP rights on a work of industrial utility.
We, therefore, advise all authors/artists to apply for registration under the copyright law.
For reasons such as convenience and clarity on enforcement of your rights, it is always better to get a statutory backing.
The law understands what it itself provides for. On the other hand, an unregistered copyright will involve a lot of effort to gather evidence in a case involving the need for substantive proof of ownership.
Moreover, it helps the government to maintain a database of protected works, the revenue generation through such creativity and the instances of infringement that occur in relation to these works.
There are numerous advantages of copyright registration. Now that you know some of the most important ones, do not delay and apply for copyright registration of your work to reap the benefits.
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