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Copyrights in Cyber Law

Rights of owner of intellectual property on the Web
This article provides information to the reader about the rights available and security of an Intellectual Property owned by an original creator on the web.

Copyrights and digital law:

Copyright is a term that incorporates the right given to makers for their masterful work, by and large, it covers scholarly works, for example, books, sonnets, plays, reference, paperwork, melodic pieces, etc. Copyright subsists in a work by virtue of creation; thus, it is not mandatory to register. Web copyright laws give the first creators or specialists the option to prohibit others from replicating their work or guaranteeing it as their own. While online copyright insurance doesn't ensure realities, thoughts, frameworks, or techniques for activity, it might secure the manner in which these things are communicated.

Types of Copyright Infringement on the Internet:

The peculiar element with infringement of copyright on the web is that it is difficult to find if a work is a 'duplicate' of a secured work. Infringement may not generally be purposeful. It might be because of 'obliviousness'. The infringement in Cyberspace will occur in various manners, for example:
  • Framing
  • Linking
  • Caching
  • Public Display of the Right by transferring on the Internet
  • Archiving

is the process of permitting a client to view the content of one site while it is outlined by data of another site, like the "image in-picture" highlight offered on certain TVs. In Future Dontics, Inc versus Applied Anagramics Inc, the plaintiff was granted the exclusive use of a telephone number and a service mark of a business. The plaintiff later built up a site to publicize the business. The defendant imitated the Future Dontic webpage on a different frame in the defendant's site. The Court held that it adds up to the infringement of Copyright.

Linking is connecting the user from the original site to a linked site. The client is provided with access to a website through the original site. The Universal Resource Locator (URL) need not be typed separately. Linking, for research purposes, gives ease to the client. Tragically, it ascends a few legal issues. Linking might be of different types, for example, Surface linking, profound linking, and in-line linking. Shetland Times, Ltd. v. Jonathan Wills and others are viewed as the first "linking" case" the issue introduced in Shetland Times was whether the Shetland ("News") "deep link" to inserted pages of the Shetland ("Times") the site, using Times site's news headlines, was a demonstration of copyright infringement under British law. The matter settled on the day of trial, shortly after the court had issued a preliminary injunction precluding the deep link.

Caching is the process in which material is duplicated from a unique source to the cache. Such material would be accessible to the user for a temporary timeframe. Caching may be executed in three ways; Firstly, replicating of the record itself which is shown on the computer screen while getting to the web. Secondly, the record that is being shown is duplicated and held alongside the reports evaluated by the user in the past. Thirdly, the archives are not stored on a personal computer but on an ISP (Internet Service Provider) or on a website.

Public Display Or Rights By Posting Pictures:
When any work is published on the Internet, it can be viewed by any user without any hindrance. Thus, when Copyright material is published on the web without approval, it turns into an instance of infringement. However, the Courts have not given any guidelines to come to such an end result but they have conveyed mixed reactions subject to the realities of each case. In Playboy Enterprises Inc v Frena, the defendant made a BBS (Bulletin Board Service) which contained infringed content. The plaintiff sued the defendant alleging infringement. The defendant contended and stated that he was uninformed of any infringement. However, the US District Court held the defendant liable.

In Archiving, the process involves downloading and putting away the material of another site and incorporating the same. Regardless of whether there exists a hyperlink, the connection will take the client to another region of a similar site where the material of another site has been stored. Archiving without the authorization of the copyright proprietor may add up to infringement.

Privileges of creators under copyright system in India:

In India, Copyright exists in the source code of a computer program. Computer software is secured as literary work and so are computer databases according to Section 2(o) of Copyright Act, 1957. Subsequently, a unique database is similarly secured by copyright.

As indicated by Section 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957 a creator of a work has the sole and exclusive option to enjoy and abuse a few rights given by the Act for literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work, cinematographic film, and sound recording. Rights referenced under Section 14 incorporate the option to imitate the work, to give its duplicates, perform it in public, make transformations, interpretations, selling, or rental rights in regard to various categories of work. Term of copyright is a lifetime of the author and sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the author dies.

Multimedia works by their inclination are works combining different databases, for example, text, sound, pictures, and moving images. It is difficult to determine which provisions ought to apply to a multimedia work in as it may be an amalgamation of distinct works such as sound recording, artistic work, and literary work or software wherein separate copyrights vest in the author conferring differing rights with respect to a category of work as per Copyright Act.

Copyright Infringement and remedies:

Where copyright is infringed, the owner of the copyright is entitled to sue for remedies including injunction, damages, the profit of accounts, and delivery of infringed goods. Section 51 states that copyright in a work is considered infringed when a person without a license from the owner or registrar of copyrights or contravening conditions of a license does anything the which is the right of the owner as per the Act or permits for a profit.

It also amounts to an infringement where a person, for sale or hire or displays or offers for sale or distributes for trade or to prejudicially affect the owner of the copyright or by way of trade exhibit in public or import into India infringing copies of work (excluding one copy for the personal use of importer).

As registration is not compulsory, suits for infringement can be filed even if the plaintiff has secured no registration of the work. Civil remedies available to the owner of copyright are also available to the exclusive licensee. Electronic contracts are considered legally valid in most jurisdictions such as India and electronic licensing or assignment is also legally valid.

Fair Dealing as a Defence:

Section 52(a) accommodates exemptions for infringements named "Fair dealing". According to Section 62 of the Copyright Act, a suit or a civil proceeding will be petitioned for the infringement of copyright in the district court having jurisdiction to hear the case. Section 63 of the Copyright Act provides punishments for the offense of copyright infringement. Any individual who purposely abets the infringement of the copyright in a work or some other right presented by the Act is culpable with imprisonment for a term which will not be under 6 but which may extend to three years and a fine which shall not be less than Rs. 50,000 but may extend to 2 lacs.

On second and subsequent conviction imprisonment is for a term not less than one year but which may extend to three years and a fine which will not be less than one lac but may extend to 2 lacs.

Punishment may be reduced if infringements are not made for commercial gain. According to Section 63 B, the use of an infringing duplicate of a computer program is culpable with imprisonment for a term of at least 7 days and it may extend to three years and a fine of at least Rs. 50,000 yet which may reach out to Rs. 2 lacs. Punishment might be decreased if encroachments are not made for benefit or profits.

Section 69 provides that if an offense is committed by an organization, each individual, who at the time of the commission of the offense was in charge and responsible for the conduct of the business of the company shall be deemed guilty of such offense and liable for punishment unless he/she proves that the offense was committed without his/her knowledge or that he/she exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of such offense.

Currently the law of copyrights in India is governed by the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012. The Copyright protection in India is strong and effective enough to take care of the Copyright of the concerned person. The protection extends not only to the Copyright as understood in the traditional sense but also in its modern aspect. Thus, on-line copyright issues are also adequately protected, though not in the clear and express terms. To meet the ever-increasing challenges, as posed by the changed circumstances and latest technology, the existing law can be so interpreted that all facets of copyright are adequately covered.

This can be achieved by applying the purposive interpretation technique, which requires the existing law to be interpreted in such a manner as justice is done in the fact and circumstances of the case. Till the country has such a sound and strong legal base for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights, the judiciary should play an active role in the protection of these rights, including the copyright. The situation is, however, not as alarming as it is perceived and the existing legal system can effectively take care of any problems associated with copyright infringement.[i][ii]


Written By Siddhi Sharma, BBA-LLB (Second year) BVIMR, New Delhi

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