Intellectual Property Rights [hereinafter referred to as ‘IPR’] have gained immense significance in the technologically advanced world where we see developments happening in almost every sphere. The concept of IPR essentially emerges from the basic layman understanding of an owner of a property and how he has the right to enjoy the benefits of the same. To substantiate the same here is an example, ‘A’ owns a piece of land, which is in tangible (physical form) in Delhi, that land is essentially his own property because he has invested money on it, similarly the concept of IPR emerged when a question arose, what if a person invests hard-work, money and time on a property that is intangible? (Something that cannot be touched or seen) That is when the need to protect IPR in the same manner as physical property came to existence and it was advocated that people must be given due credit for their work which arises out of their intellect and skills. One of the facets of IPRs is ‘Copyright’, many are aware of this term because we see it as a disclaimer in any films, YouTube videos and TV series that we watch and rightly so, it protects the literature, art and cinematograph ideas of the creator. Thus, any original work of a creator gives them an exclusive right over their work, and they can prevent others from exploiting the same. Having understood the concept of IPR and Copyright so far, let us shift our focus to the current scenario and how the pandemic affects the copyright law and digital era. The article herewith will discuss about educational videos on YouTube and copyrightability of the same and the concept of ‘fair use’ which is a defense that can be taken from the others who use these educational videos for their purpose.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals in the case of Wainwright Securities Inc. v. Wall St. Transcript Corp. held that, ‘There is no copyright in news. However,

As mentioned above, educational videos can also be copyrighted because they involve hard-work and creativity to present the topic in a said manner. For instance, there is a professor who is teaching about the concept of ‘acid, bases and salts- An introduction’ in the said video so that student community can be benefitted by it due to digital era during pandemic. Now, the concept of acid and bases are not protected because they are ‘facts’ but rather the way the teacher explains it, her video will be protected. Thus, according to YouTube’s policy, it allows the channels to protect their videos from being re-uploaded as someone else’s on their respective channel. Now for example, the professor has a good audience and they receive monetization for videos being uploaded, now that gives them a commercial benefit for their work and thereby if someone else re-uploads it on their channel to earn benefit it is against the principles of copyright law. At this juncture it is important to look at a very recent interesting case which was heard by the Delhi High Court in Prem Prakash Dhawan v. Aman Dhattarwal & Ors. the issue was regarding the copying of handwritten materials of a renowned chemistry teacher without giving due credits and naming it as their own notes. The Court held that credits must be given even though it is for educational purposes and even if not, it must not be portrayed as their own.

Thus, even when we look at the current scenario, if teachers are using YouTube videos to educate their children it can be done so as long as they are not misusing the same for their personal gains.


Certain things and works created by others may be of a larger public interest, for instance, while discussing about educational videos, it is for the student community to be educated and make use of digital media especially in times of COVID-19. Thus, if a YouTube video or scanned copies of notes are available online, it can be used and shown to others by people in order to educate the community. In fact, even when we look at Copyright Law, in simple words, it enshrines that anything that is used by students or teachers specifically for educational purposes is not a violation. Furthermore, Courts in several instances have made it clear that this applies to only people associated to educational institutions and not for profit motive, it becomes important to emphasize on this point because reaping benefits of someone else’s work is against the very purpose of having copyright law. The major hurdle in copyright law is that of ease of access to copyright work. Since the online/digital learning is on the internet, the responsibility lies on the educational institutions to safeguard themselves in the name of fair use as explained above for education and research purpose. Institutions must work out the scheme and policy with content providers to build a system for fair use during the path of virtual teaching in the digitally sound environment.


Thus, it is safe to conclude that in the current digital era, where means to exchange any kind of information is reliant on technology; learning and education is no exception. In the wake of unprecedented pandemic situation, it is important to keep the learning process going without any hindrance on the digital platforms. 

However, at every phase of development there are consequences attached and in the present circumstance, web-based learning anticipates the infringement of copyright. The provisions of Copyright Act, 1957 with regard to fair dealing does safeguard the education institutions in terms of traditional approach of education but are deficient and inadequate and neglects the protection of copyright in light of distance learning era. This is because of the dynamic society, and it is expected from the Courts to be liberal in their approach to include any such circumstances that may arise.

Name of Author:
VNatasha K: 4th year BA.LLB (Hons.) student at CMR University, School of Legal Studies, Bangalore.


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