28 March 2014
COPYRIGHT ACT, 1957
Copyright refers to laws that regulate the use of the work of a creator, such as an artist or author. This includes copying, distributing, altering and displaying creative, literary and other types of work. Unless otherwise stated in a contract, the author or creator of a work retains the copyright. Copyright does not ordinarily protect titles by themselves or names, short word combinations, slogans, short phrases, methods, plots or factual information.
For a copyright to apply to a work, it must be an original idea that is put to use. The idea alone cannot be protected by copyright. It is the physical use of that idea, such as an illustration or a written novel that is covered under copyright law. A good example of this is that there are many films and books based on the classic boy meets girl theme in which the girl’s parents disapprove of boy and after many tears, true love finally triumphs. This theme cannot be monopolized, but original works to it can be. The same can be said of all other works.
Copyrights subsist in following class of works:
a) Original literary, musical or dramatic work
b) Cinematograph films and Sound recordings
c) Computer Programme
d) Artistic work.
Ø Original literary works are novels, newspaper articles, lyrics for songs, and instruction manuals
Ø Cinematograph Films are videos and digital versatile discs (DVDs), Sound recordings can be in any form (e.g. tape or compact disc). They can be recordings of other copyright works, such as music or literature or other sounds
Ø Computer programs are some types of databases
Ø Original artistic works paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, photographs, diagrams, maps, works of architecture and works of artistic craftsmanship.
The rights vary according to the class of work. Copyright also subsists in translations, abridgements or compilations of such works, provided the permission of the Copyright holder is obtained. Computer programmes are considered as literary works and are protected under the Copyright Act. There is no copyright in an idea. A copyright essentially ensures that any creative work cannot be copied without the permission of the author/creator. This allows the author to charge others for copying his work, or modifying it, or building on top of it.
For a creative work to be protected by copyright law, it needs to be something concrete – i.e. put into some physical format. (The technical term is ‘fixed in a tangible medium.’) It can be the source code of a software program, or the binary executable file, or a piece of music, or a movie, or the text in a book, or a photograph, or a painting, or a speech. It cannot be just an idea in your head.