India: From Copyright To Right To Copy: "World Of Open Sources"

Last Updated: 23 October 2014
Article by Monika Shailesh

Most Read Contributor in India, September 2016

With the advent of internet, open- source software initiatives, General public licenses, and conception of copyleft the present copyright is under fire. This has initiated debates questioning the fundamentals of copyright. Debates about copyright are thus full of subtexts; they are partly about law, partly about profit, partly about access, and partly about who produces what.

Many stake holders believe that copyright laws are not only providing benefit to individual but also are detrimental to the general public domain. It is being used a weapon to protect the commercial culture all the cost of non commercial and being considered as an inhibitor to the growth of artistic and intellectual development by cutting away the necessary inputs. It is believed that laws have considerably failed to provide a simple means to allow use of an individual's work by making the permission process cumbersome and to a certain extent prohibitive.1

Consequently a large no. of groups and individuals have emerged with new ideas to ascertain free flow of knowledge and have created modular contracts and licenses that allows right holders to pre authorize use of their work.

Open source initiative or "OSI" has been doing pioneering work in this region. It is a California public benefit corporation, with 501©3tax exempt status and was founded in 1998. OSI is a non- profit corporation with a mission to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to mend the gap among different constituencies in the open source community. Open source is believed to be a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability more flexibility, lower cost and an end to predatory vendor lock in.

"OSI "is continuously working as a standard body maintaining the open source definition for the good of community. The open source initiative approved. Licenses trademark and program creates a nexus of trust around with developers, uses, corporations and governments can organize open source co- operation.2

Classical examples of open source initiatives is the birth of "open source", "copyleft" licensing in the software development industry .For this GNU General Public License "GPL" is a prominent model. A GPL builds upon existing copyright law, using the existing rights of an owner to attempt to allow public use of software at the same time preventing its privatization or commercialization. Any free software released under a GPL would require that anyone who wants to use and modify the underlying source code must release any modification under a GPL thereby keeping the software or the code within the non – commercial realm.

Copyrights and licenses for most of the software and other artistic work are designed to take away one's freedom to share and change the works. By contrast, the GPL is intended to guarantee freedom to share and change any work in part or full to make sure it remains free to all its users. While referring to "Free" it is intended for the freedom and not for price. This means the author can distribute the work to anyone for free or charge for the work but the author cannot inhibit in part or full the further distribution of that work. This means that any uses are free to use that work and hence GPL pre authorized the General Public Domain to use any work under GPL.

Another important aspect of these initiatives and efforts is to protect user's legal rights from Anticircumvention Law. By saying this it means that no covered work shall be deemed part of all effective technological measure under any applicable law fulfilling obligations under article of WIPO COPYRIGHT TREATY adopted on 20 DEC 96 or similar laws prohibiting or restricting circumvention of such measures.3

There are many more models of open source licenses but a few popular ones are required to be known.

  • BSD license
  • MIT license
  • APACHE license
  • Creative commons

Many open source, or copyleft licenses has following mission statement.


In order to support copy left , GNU GPL and other open source initiatives, critics of copy right laws often quote examples of ANDROID, LINUX, MYSQL, APACHE etc. open source projects are giving hard times to the counterpart copyright protected ones. and in some cases even surpassing their popularity. The strong foot hold of open source license system can be realized by a federal court ruling in U.S stating violating copyleft = copyright infringement.5

In India even the Supreme Court has also adopted open source operating system ubuntu and has directed over 17,000 courts across the country to switch to open source operating system.


As a result, numerous open source licenses have emerged as viable alternatives to costly proprietary and commercial products. Open source licenses are gaining popularity. Open source is fast gaining acceptability and is the future of e-learning. Many world class institutes have adopted Open source. In a sense, we are at a turning point in the evolution of free knowledge.


1. Codifying a commons; copyright, copyleft and the creative commons project. by ADRIENNE K. GOSS.


3. Source: WWW.GNU.ORG LAST VISITED 14/09/2014

4. (last visited 14/09/2014

5. Robert Jacapsen v/s Kamid Associates. 13 March, 2006 (California)

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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