India: Copyright And Cyberspace: Software And Digital Piracy

Last Updated: 16 April 2019
Article by Deepika Gupta

As we enter into the emerging era of software technology and the ever-growing sphere of the internet and worldwide web, protection of data and the importance of copyright protection has taken center-stage. Copyright law today protects works such as literary, dramatic and artistic works; cinematography films; sound recording and computer programs, data bases and compilations.


According to the Copyright Act, 1957, in the case of computer program protection is given on the basis of whether the same is given or hired, or offered for sale or hire, any copy of the computer program, regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions.1 The major need for appropriate copyright laws in India in the field of cyber space is because of the limitation of the Information Technology Act, 20002, which fails to cover various issues such as copyright, domain name, cyber-space and jurisdiction.


(Example, YouTube) When a video is uploaded on YouTube, the right to broadcast that particular video vests with Youtube and it grants or warrants the copyright to the uploader. However, this may be at times be distinguished in the manner in which the uploader opts to obtain the copyright, that is, by means of "Standard Youtube License" or "Creative Commons". Therefore, almost all the videos of Youtube have a copyright, and therefore before using any video or any part thereof for reproduction, adaptation or such like, the permission of the uploader ought to be taken. Also, at the same time before uploading, for example, a cover music of a song, appropriate license must be obtained by the uploader from the original creator or composer.3


Before understanding software piracy, it is imperative to understand the three major types of software, that is,

  1. Micro code: A programme which controls the details of execution;
  2. The operating system software which control the sources of a computer and manages routine tasks and is a necessary requirement for a computer to function;
  3. An application software which is designed to perform a particular task.

Hence, piracy of this software occurs when the software so available on the internet is available to be downloaded or temporarily stored by an internet user without the permission of the owner of the software.


Another important aspect to cover whilst mentioning software piracy is that of the increasing use of OSS (Open Source Software) amongst the software and Information Technology companies of this era. To investigate into the pros and cons of the same, an interesting case to work with is that of the budding open source software alternatives, such as Open Office. The appearance of an OSS alternative leads the incumbent to reduce both price and the level of piracy control. Although high-quality pirated goods are detrimental to profits in the absence of OSS, they may actually limit the incumbent's losses and the need to adjust price and protection strategies due to the introduction of an OSS alternative. Thus, an incumbent may find it easier to compete with OSS in the presence of product piracy.4

Therefore, to establish whether or not there has occurred an infringement, of more or less magnitude, of copyright due to the rise of open source systems is a debatable topic, but, there is no denying fact that there are infringements of copyright in cyber space which has the potential of causing great damages to the owner of the copyright.


Another interesting license that finds its application to software is that of Creative Commons (CC) license. Whilst there are several types of creative commons licenses, the very first was initially released on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a United States non-profit corporation founded in 2001. Work licensed under a Creative Commons license is governed by applicable copyright law. This allows Creative Commons licenses to be applied to all work falling under copyright, including: books, plays, movies, music, articles, photographs, blogs, and websites. The Creative commons recommends free and open source software licenses instead of Creative Commons licenses.5 The legal implications of large numbers of works having Creative Commons licensing are difficult to predict, and there is speculation that media creators often lack insight to be able to choose the license which best meets their intent in applying it.

The nature of a copyright is however that of a negative right, which creates a negative monopoly which enables the author of the work to prevent others to exercise that right which has been conferred upon him and he is the exclusive and sole owner of that work.

Hence, to conclude, one can notice how the increasing scope and sphere of the internet and cyber space is creating a ground for the exploitation and infringement of rights of the owners of digital content and software data. It is highly critical to ensure that their rights are being protected and that the public is not allowed to access, store or use the same information or data without obtaining the requisite license or permit of the owner. The cases of Youtube have indicated how infringement in their respective domains has adversely affected not only the rights and liabilities of the owner, but, also their own business.


[1] Section 14 (c), Copyright Act, 1957.

[2] Kamath, Nandan, ed. Law relating to computers, internet, and e-commerce: a guide to cyberlaws and the Information Technology Act, 2000. Universal Law Pub. Co., 2000.

[3] Cayari, Christopher. "The YouTube Effect: How YouTube Has Provided New Ways to Consume, Create, and Share Music." International Journal of Education & the Arts 12, no. 6 (2011): n6.

[4] Machado, Fernando S.; Raghu, T S.; Sainam, Preethika; and Sinha, Rajiv (2017) "Software Piracy in the Presence of Open Source Alternatives," Journal of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 18 : Iss. 1 , Article 3.Available at:

[5] Commons, Creative. "Creative commons." (2008).

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions