Copyright Infringement by

Copyright owner has exclusive rights on his work after the completion of copyright registration. How he exploits his works is completely according to his whims and fancies. Any unauthorized use of copyright in work is considered as infringement of copyright and the person who infringed work is liable for violating copyrights and is punished with fine or imprisonment and sometimes both. But, however not every unauthorized use of copyright works is considered as infringement, there are some exceptions given under law for which unauthorized use is not considered as infringement.

The exclusive rights of copyright owner, protection for those rights, remedies in case of violation of right of copyright owner, list of free uses where unauthorized work is not considered as an infringement and statutory exceptions given for use of work without owner permission, everything has been laid down in Copyright act, 1957. This act simply strikes a balance between interest of authors or public interest.

Section-14 of Copyright act, 1957 gives the meaning of copyright and lists the exclusive rights comprised in copyright as a protected work. Section- 51 of same act explains when can a work protected under copyright act is said to be infringed and gives its instances. Under this Copyright act, there are both civil and criminal remedies to protect the copyright work from unauthorized use. These civil remedies provide compensation to the owner, whereas criminal remedies acts as deterrent against infringing activities.

Law sometimes for certain specific reasons allows the unauthorized use of copyright work and that kind of use is not considered as infringement. These unauthorized usages of work which come under these specific reasons are termed as ‘fair dealing’. To escape from liability for infringement one should prove that his use of work is ‘fair dealing’ and Section-52 of Copyright act provides general defences of copyright infringement. But what is fair dealing? This term was not explained anywhere. Criteria to determine fair use is also not a defined benchmark to determine, it is determined on case to case basis. One of the tests to determine fairness is whether there is any intention to derive profit.

In Section-52 various acts are mentioned which does not constitute infringement of copyright. They are:

Fair dealing with any work other than computer programme for the purposes of

  1. Personal or private use, including research;

    • Here defence is if person fairly uses work for his private study or for research purposes, he will not incur wrath of copyright infringement. But this private study or research does not involve any kind of publishing as stated by Madras High Court in Blackwood and sons Ltd. and others v. A.N. Parusuraman and others.

  2. Criticism or review, whether of that work or any other work;
    • In this defence, it is also permissible to quote from other works for criticizing or comparing.

  3. Reporting current events and current affairs, including the reporting of a lecture delivered in public;

  4. Reproduction of any work in accessible format for disabled persons.

    • This provision was inserted through 2012 amendment which allows adaptation, reproduction, issue of copies or communication to the public, of any work by any person to facilitate persons of disability to access them

  5. Reproducing any work for purpose of reporting to a judicial proceeding.

  6. Reasonable extracts from a published literary or dramatic works for purpose of reading or recitation in public.

  7. Performance in course of activities of educational institutions.

  8. Causing of a recording to be heard in public in an enclosed room or as part of activities of club
    which are not for securing profit purposes.

  9. Performing literary, drama or musical work for non- paying audience or for a bend=fit of any
    religious institution.

  10. Storing of work in any medium by electronic means by non-commercial public library.

  11. Use of copyright material in course of education.
    • Reproduction of any literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any translation or adaptation of such work by

    i. By teacher or pupil in course of instruction or

    ii. As part of questions to be answered in an examination or

    iii. In answers to such questions, shall not constitute as infringement of copyright in the work.

    • This defence for reproducing work is provided only for teacher and pupil, but not for those who publish guides for commercial exploitation as commercial exploitation takes the issue out of ambit of fair use. This was pronounced by Delhi High Court in in its judgment in Syndicate of the Press of the University of Cambridge v. B. D. Bhandari and another.

There are many more acts mentioned in Section 52 of the Copyright act, 1957, which can be used as defences in copyright infringement cases. Apart from the defences mentioned in statutory law, there is common law exception which can be used to in case of infringement of copyright. In common law exception, protection is denied to works for public interest, but the principles on which this exception works varies from place to place.