- In India, The Copyright, 1957 or its predecessor legislations do not make registration of a Copyright mandatory. A Copyright is protected by virtue of its creation use under the Common Law rights. Registration under the Act does not create the Copyright but the right accrues from first commercial use of the work. Unlike Trade Mark not all countries have a system for registration of a Copyright Work. Therefore, content creators and owners should make optimal use the system.
- Under Section 48 of Copyrights Act, registration of a Copyright shows that it is prima facie valid. This is a rebuttable presumption and it can be proved otherwise. However, the burden to show invalidity of the registration rests on the person asserting it.
- Registration of a Copyright work gives comfort to an adjudicating Judge that the work has been created and recorded with a statutory authority in the name of particular person. This become critical while resorting to enforcement proceeding with the aid of Police and Customs authorities. The Police officer is assured with the existence of a copyright registration certificate in the name of the Complainant and the ownership of the complainant before taking any action.
- In a situation, where a dispute arises as to who is the first creator of the work after many years, registration is of great significance. The filing of a Copyright application clearly shows the date of filing of the application. This date will be the undisputed date, if not an earlier date, to show that the applicant had created the work. Therefore, the honesty in creation and question of 'first creator' would be squarely answered by this date itself. Further, with online filing of Copyright Application being mandatory, the time stamp is beyond doubt.
- Recordal of a registration at the Copyright office notifies any person desirous of verifying a new work of filing a new Copyright application. Thus, lot of potential disputes are avoided, most importantly, without any knowledge or costs of the registered proprietor. This online feature has been enabled by the Copyright office recently, therefore, its utility will be put to test in the times to come.
- Another important advantage is the forum of enforcement. A copyright owner does not have to chase an infringer by filing case at the place of an infringer or where the infringing activity is happening. Copyright Act creates a special jurisdiction to file a suit for infringement against an infringer at the place of registered office of the Copyright owner. This becomes very critical considering that India is a large country. A copyright owner would get exhausted if it is required to chase infringers throughout the country.
- In order to register an Intellectual Property Right before the Customs Office to prevent import of unauthorized work, a registered copyright is essential.
- Copyright registration is a one-time process. It does not require renewal or periodic monitoring by the registered owner. Only in the event of a change in the proprietor particulars, the same are required to be recorded with the Registrar of Copyright. Thus, the maintenance costs are extremely low.
- As laws and systems evolve, it is possible that a registered Copyright may become mandatory to carry on trade akin to other trade licenses. In future it cannot be ruled out that a registered Copyright may trump a common law user. Therefore, it is prudent to apply for Copyright registration prior to commencing business.
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.