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Copyright Protection on Reports of Judicial Proceedings - Head notes - Commentaries

Law reports which contain head notes are entitled to copyright, Commentaries on Act
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  • Reports of judicial proceedings

    The judgment or order of a court, tribunal or other judicial authority is exempted from copyright protection.

    Thus any person can reproduce or publish them unless such reproduction or publication has been prohibited by the judicial authority concerned.

    Judgments of courts published in Law Reports are collected by lawyers practicing in various courts. If the reporters or lawyers along with the judgment also supply head notes prepared by them as part of their report, copyright in the head notes will vest in them. The publishers could claim copyright in the head notes only if the reporters had been employed under a contract of service with them or the copyright had been assigned to them or the head notes had been prepared by themselves or their employees.

    Copyright is a limited monopoly having its origin in protection

    But, there cannot be any monopoly in the subject matter which the author has borrowed from public domain. Others are at liberty to use the same material in which no one has a copyright.

    Head notes of law reports

    The head notes contain in clear and concise language the principal of law to be deduced from the decision to which it is prefixed or the facts and circumstances which bring the case in hand within some principle or rule of law or of practice. The preparation of such a head note or the side or marginal note of a report of a judgment requires the exercise of skill and thought. The head notes of law reports are therefore original literary work which are entitled to copyright protection.

    A genuine abridgement of judgment of the court is an original work and can be the subject matter of infringement of a copyright, even if the amount of originality is very small. However, in case the head notes are verbatim extracts from the judgments of the court there is no amount of skill or labour involved in preparing the head notes and no person can claim a copyright therein. Copyright will subsist in head notes only if there is originality in the preparation of head notes.

    Copyright on Commentaries on Act

    Copyright subsists in commentaries on Acts. The author of a commentary on an Act has to bestow considerable amount of skill, labour, knowledge and judgment in selecting materials from a large number of judgments spread out in many volumes, arranging and editing them for the purpose of stating the principles of law and practice as enunciated in the judgments and for interpreting the various sections of the Act.

    New edition after expiry of copyright It will not create copyright in a new edition of a work of which the copyright has expired merely to make a few amendments of the text or to add a few important notes. To create copyright by alteration of the text there must be extensive and substantial alterations, practically making a new book.

    # Copyright Protection on Reports of Judicial Proceedings such as Head Notes and Commentaries of an Act

    # Registration and filing of Copyrights in India:
    Copyright, is a bundle of rights, which grants protection to the unique expression of ideas. Ideas per se cannot be protected; it is the expression of ideas in a material medium that is the subject matter of copyright protection. Copyright is a negative right and the owner of a copyright gets the right to prevent others from copying his work without his consent towards a commercial end. However, at the same time it gives to the author an exclusive right for the commercial exploitation of his work

    # The Rights protected by Copyright Law: Copyright law seeks to promote human creativity and confers several rights on the copyright owner. International agreements, among which the most important is the Berne Convention, 1886

    # Copyright Law in India: Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection granted under Indian law to the creators of original works of authorship such as literary works (including computer programs, tables and compilations including computer databases which may be expressed in words, codes, schemes or in any other form, including a machine readable medium), dramatic, musical and artistic works, cinematographic films and sound recordings.

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