Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are legal rights that are granted to a person’s creative and artistic work, invention, discovery, literary work or words, phrases, symbols or designs. The owners of Intellectual Property are granted certain exclusive rights through which they use their property without any disturbance and can prevent the misuse of their property.
Copyright is one of the Intellectual Property Rights given to the creator of any literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. A copyright denoted the right to reproduce, communicate to the public, adapt and translate the work.
When it comes to software programmes, they are considered as ‘literary work’ within the meaning of Copyright Act, 1957. Literary work includes computer programs, tables and compilations including computer databases in any tangible form.
A literary work that is original is protected under the copyright laws in India. The work must not be a copy of another work and the author i.e. the creator of computer software must have spent sufficient efforts and skills to create the computer programme.
To obtain a software Copyright in India, the developer has to simply record the programme on a tangible medium. As soon as the work is embodied in a medium like ROM, diskette, magnetic tape, etc, it becomes eligible for Copyright protection.
The Indian Copyright laws for software protection prohibit copying the structure and design of a software programme, along with its graphics, sounds and appearance. Though the source code contains information pertaining to writing and understanding the program, it is generally the object code that is protected by a copyright.
A computer software or computer programme can be registered under the Copyright Law on the basis of either the source code or object code as the Indian Copyright Office considers both as counterparts for the purpose of software registration.
To get a software copyright, an application has to be filed with the Copyright Office that contains the complete application form, application fees and a deposit, which are non-refundable. The application form contains the copies of the work which is applied to be registered.
The copyright registration comes into effect from the date the Copyright Office receives all the documents. The time needed to process applications varies depending on the amount of material the Office is receiving and the method of application.
Under the copyright laws in India, the creator of a computer programme is given the following rights in their copyrighted work:
- Reproduce the work in any material or electronic form.
- Create and issue copies of their work to other people.
Translate the work.
- Make any adaptations of the work.
- To sell the work to any other person.
Creator of a software can file an infringement suit against any person who violates their above-mentioned rights or undertakes any activity that indirectly infringes upon a registered trademark. However, the copyright laws in India clarify that the following acts do not constitute software copyright infringement:
- To make copies or adaptation of a computer programme by a person who owns a legally owns a copy to make backup copies as a measure against loss, destruction or damage.
- To obtain information required to operate any independently created computer programme.
- To observe, study or test the functionality of the programme and determine its ideas and principles.
- Make copies or adaptation for non-commercial personal use.
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