The Copyright Act, 1957 came into effect from January 1958. This Act has been amended five times since then, i.e., in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2012. The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 is the most substantial. The main reasons for amendments to the Copyright Act, 1957 include to bring the Act in conformity with WCT and WPPT; to protect the Music and Film Industry and address its concerns; to address the concerns of the physically disabled and to protect the interests of the author of any work; Incidental changes; to remove operational facilities; and enforcement of rights. Some of the important amendments to the Copyright Act in 2012 are extension of copyright protection in the digital environment such as penalties for circumvention of technological protection measures and rights management information, and liability of internet service provider and introduction of statutory licences for cover versions and broadcasting organizations; ensuring right to receive royalties for authors, and music composers, exclusive economic and moral rights to performers, equal membership rights in copyright societies for authors and other right owners and exception of copyrights for physically disabled to access any works.
Prior to the Act of 1957, the Law of Copyrights in the country was governed by the Copyright Act of 1914. This Act was essentially the extension of the British Copyright Act, 1911 to India. Even the Copyright Act, 1957 borrowed extensively from the new Copyright Act of the United Kingdom of 1956. The Copyright Act, 1957 continues with the common law traditions. Developments elsewhere have brought about certain degree of convergence in copyright regimes in the developed world.
The Indian Copyright Act today is compliant with most international conventions and treaties in the field of copyrights. India is a member of the Berne Convention of 1886 (as modified at Paris in 1971), the Universal Copyright Convention of 1951 and the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement of 1995. Though India is not a member of the Rome Convention of 1961, the Copyright Act, 1957 is fully compliant with the Rome Convention provisions.
The two Internet Treaties were negotiated in 1996 under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). These treaties are called the ‘WIPO Copyrights Treaty (WCT)’ and the ‘WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT)’. These treaties were negotiated essentially to provide for protection of the rights of copyright holders, performers and producers of phonograms in the Internet and digital era. India is not a member of these treaties; amendments are being mooted to make Act in compliant with the above treaties in order to provide protection to copyright in the digital era. Though India is not a member of the WCT and the WPPT, the Copyright Act, 1957 is fully compliant with the Rome Convention provisions. The provisions of the Act is also in harmony with two other new WIPO treaties namely, the Beijing Audiovisual Performers treaty, 2012 and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled Persons, 2013.
The Copyright Rules, 2013 was notified on 14 March, 2013 replacing the old Copyright Rules, 1958. The Rules, inter alia, provide for procedure for relinquishment of Copyright; grant of compulsory licences in the matter of work withheld from public; to publish or republish works (in certain circumstances); to produce and publish a translation of a literary or dramatic work in any language; licence for benefit of disabled; grant statutory licence for cover versions; grant of statutory licence for broadcasting literary and musical works and sound recordings; registration of copyright societies and copyright registration.