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Copyright Protection

This collection contains recommendation documents, and proposed plans that intend to shape India's copyright protection regime.

Published onMar 31, 2020
Copyright Protection


The Act states that copyright subsists in original literary work, Irrespective of the quality, style or literary merit, a work may be considered as literary, if it is expressed in print or writing or in some form of notation or symbols. Section 2(o) of the Act provides that- “literary work” includes computer programmes, tables and compilations including computer databases.”

In the Indian Copyright Act, there are no specific meanings attached to the terms tables, compilation and databases, but these are copyrightable subject matter and are protected as literary work. To obtain copyright protection for a table, compilation including computer databases, the work must exhibit some creativity or originality in the selection or arrangement of the contents of the work. If the labour and skill required to make the selection and to compile the tables which form its items is negligible then no copyright can subsists in it.

If no originality is found in the expression and content of the work, the work will not qualify for copyright protection. Originality in their case is tested on the grounds of the selection and arrangement of the material used to compile the final work. The author of a compilation does not really create anything new, but merely selects and arranges prior work. In such cases, copyright protection is only provided for the new original literary work of authorship and not to the work as a whole.

Compilations are entitled to be registered under literary category provided that sufficient exercise of skill and judgment is employed. it is clear that these works include databases, as the definition of ''literary work' is inclusive rather than exhaustive. Website usually consists of different rudiments which may be copyrightable subject matter that falls within any one of the classes of works set forth in Section 13 of Copyright Act, 1957. The component parts of website can be in different form of digital files such as text, tables, computer programmes, compilations including computer databases (“literary works”);

While considering how databases are protected, some important points as given below, need to be considered2:

  1. A single database may include multiple data records. Each and every data record has its own proprietary value and is evaluated as individual literary work. Therefore, each record must be protected as a single literary work.

  2. When a database is used with a software application, while executing the application, information is retrieved, modified, added or deleted from the database. To perform such modification in databases, specific programming languages (eg: SQL) are available which helps in compilation of database. The manner in which the programming language commands are used can be termed as creative work. Therefore the task of compilation must be protected as a separate work.

  3. Modification in original database which results in a new and better arrangement of the original database will not be considered as copyright infringement.

National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, 20163

The National IPR Policy introduced in 2016, lays down the following relevant points for protection of IPR in the country:

  • The authorities ought to provide guidance to researchers and innovators about national priority areas like biotechnology, data analytics, nanotechnology, new materials and ICT.

  • IP offices must be given technical cooperation, including access to databases, use of ICT, etc.

  • The authorities must ensure that public records in the IP office are easily available and accessible both online and offline.

  • Promote cooperation with IP offices in other countries in areas of Capacity Building, Human Resource Development, Training, Access to Databases, Best Practices in search and examinations, use of ICT and user oriented services.

  • The Office of the Registrar of Copyrights shall take measures for e-filing facilities including e-applications, processing and issue of final extracts of registrations; digitize copyright records and introduce on-line search facility; provide necessary manpower and adequate training facilities to personnel in the Copyright Office; ease of remote access of the international patent search mechanisms and other IP related databases.

  • Efforts should be made for creation of a public platform to function as a common database of IPRs. It would be helpful in scouting the technology landscape to identify white spaces and thereby help promote innovative activities in uncovered areas.

  • Facilitate access to databases on Indian IP and global databases of creators/ innovators, market analysts, funding agencies, IP intermediaries, etc.

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