Copyright can be defined as the term used to denote author’s right or the right of the creator of a particular artistic work or any literary work. According to common understanding, development of copyright law is credited with invention of printing machine in 1440 by Gutenberg in Germany. The printing press invention allowed the readers access to various literary works by making printed copies through mechanical process in large numbers. Adding to that the growth in literacy increased the demand for printed books. So the need was felt to prevent and protect authors and publishers from unauthorized copying.
COPYRIGHT LAW IN UK:
The Statute of Anne:
British Parliament enacted world’s first copyright law in 1710. This law vested with author the copyright of work, main aim being promotion of public interest. It ended the printing monopoly and improved access to books. The aim was to increase competition among publishing houses by giving right of copying to author. This beginning encouraged the passing of copyright laws in other countries as well ,such as Denmark in 1741 made the ordinance to protect rights of authors and similar step was initiated in 1770 in USA.
THE BERNE CONVENTION:
The concept of originality was defined for the first time at Berne convention, 1886. Therefore it expanded the scope of exclusivity and defined threshold for protected subject matter. The concept of originality contained protection against reproduction because protection against duplication was no longer adequate. The basic elements adopted by Berne convention for protection were:
- National treatment: It meant that the work originating in member state must protected by other member states in the same way the member states protected the works of their nationals.
- Minimum rights: It means that laws of member states should provide a minimum level of protection established by the convention.
Many other provisions have been adopted in the Berne convention: Formality free protection, works protected, owners of rights, eligibility for protection, rights protected, limitations, duration of protection, preferential provisions concerning developing countries.
THE COPYRIGHT ACT, 1911 of India:
This act was a consolidation of all other acts into one and was considered as implementation of Berne convention. Some major elements of this act are:
- The term of copyright was extended to life and 50 years beyond.
- Need of registry with ‘register of stationers’ was done away to get protection.
- Protection was extended to unpublished work also.
- Remedies were given in case of infringement.
- All forms of arts such as singing, literature, photography, painting was included.
Before this act of 1911, literary works and books got protection under statute of Anne and other arts got protection from legislations namely: copyright act, 1734 and the fine arts copyright act 1862.
TRIPS Agreement was concluded in 1994 at Uruguay round of negotiation under GATT contained provisions regarding protection of copyright. This agreement provided for the compliance of all member countries with substantive provisions 1971 Paris act of Berne convention. Also the idea of protecting the computer program as literary work under Berne convention was introduced in TRIPS Agreement. Under the agreement a dispute resolution has also been provided.
CONVENTION IN ROME:
Known as counterpart of Berne convention, here protection was granted to performers for certain acts against which they did not consent for example, broadcasting and communication to the public of live performance, fixation of live performance etc. According to Rome convention phonogram can be defined as aural fixation of sounds of a performance or of other sounds. Phonogram producers were given rights to prohibit any direct or indirect reproduction of their phonograms. Rights to authorize or prohibit certain acts such as rebroadcasting of broadcasts were given to broadcasting organizations.
The first copyright law in India was enacted by British in 1847 was a mirror image of English law. All disputes related to infringement of the copyright was under jurisdiction of the highest civil court at local level. The act was replaced in future by Copyright act of 1914 that was termed as the first copyright law of modern India. This included copyright protection for art and literature together. The intent of the British behind this act was to ease the flow of literature to colonial subcontinent. This act replicated the English copyright act, 1911. After Independence on 21 January, 1958 India got its first copyright act, 1957 which replaced the 1911 act. This act of 1957 was amended in 1983, 1984, 1992, 1994, 1999 and 2012 to bring it in consonance with international treaties.
Tushar Srivastava, 2nd Year LLB, Student at Law School, IIT Kharagpur