In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, the general rule is that the author, i.e. the person who created the work, is the first owner of the economic rights under copyright. However, where such a work is made in the course of employment, the employer is the first owner of these rights, unless an agreement to the contrary has been made with the author.
In the case of a film, the principal director and the film producer are joint authors and first owners of the economic rights and similar provisions as referred to above apply where the director is employed.
In the case of a sound recording the record producer is the author and first owner of copyright; in the case of a broadcast, the broadcaster; and in case of a published edition, the publisher.
Copyright is, however, a form of property which, like physical property, can be bought or sold, inherited or otherwise transferred, wholly or in part. So, some or all of the economic rights may subsequently belong to someone other than the first owner. In contrast, the moral rights accorded to authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors remain with the author or director or pass to his or her heirs on death. Copyright in material produced by a Government department belongs to the Government of India.
Copyright owners generally have the right to authorize or prohibit any of the following things in relation to their works:
- Copying of the work in any way eg. Photocopying / reproducing a printed page by handwriting, typing or scanning into a computer / taping live or recorded music.
- Issuing copies of the work to the public.
- Public delivery of lectures or speeches etc.
- Broadcasting of the work, audio / video or including it in a cable programme.
- Making an adaptation of the work such as by translating a literary or dramatic work, transcribing a musical work and converting a computer program into a different computer language or code.
- Copyright is infringed when any of the above acts are done without authorization, whether directly or indirectly and whether the whole or a substantial part of a work, unless what is done falls within the scope of exceptions to copyright permitting certain minor uses of material.
There are a number of exceptions to copyright that allow limited use of copyright works without the permission of the copyright owner. For example, limited use of works may be possible for research and private study, criticism or review, reporting current events, judicial proceedings, teaching in schools and other educational establishments and not for profit playing of sound recordings.
But if you are copying large amounts of material and/or making multiple copies then you may still need permission. Also where a copyright exception covers publication of excerpts from a copyright work, it is generally necessary to include an acknowledgement. Sometimes more than one exception may apply to the use you are thinking of.
Exceptions to copyright do not generally give you rights to use copyright material; they just state that certain activities do not infringe copyright. So it is possible that an exception could be overridden by a contract you have signed limiting your ability to do things that would otherwise fall within the scope of an exception.
It is important to remember that just buying or owning the original or a copy of a copyright work does not give you permission to use it the way you wish. For example, buying a copy of a book, CD, video, computer program etc does not necessarily give you the right to make copies (even for private use), play or show them in public. Other everyday uses of copyright material, such as photocopying, scanning, downloading from a CD-ROM or on-line database, all involve copying the work. So, permission is generally needed. Also, use going beyond an agreed licence will require further permission.