• Legis Scriptor

Issues in Digital Copyright

Authored by Sulakshana Pawar

Keywords: Copyright, issues arising, challenges, remedies, relief


Copyright describes the rights given to the creators or authorizes others to use their works. The creator of work can prohibit or authorize its reproduction in various forms. Copyright encourages human creativity. Different software and other such mechanism are developed to avoid the infringement of the copyright. At the international level, as well as the national level, this has thrown a light on the necessary steps that are needed to be taken.


One of the finest creations of the human mind is Digital Technology. Gates to a wide range of possibilities seems to be possible because of this technology. The internet makes available the material in easy access form, which leads to copyright infringement. Because of the digital platform, it has become easy to sell, copy, replicate the works of the owner, and hence it leads to the threat of their rights.

Issues arising:

1. Software:

Computer software is a ‘computer program’ within the meaning of the Copyright Act. Computer programs are included in the definition of literacy work under the Copyright Act.

Term: According to section 22 of the Copyright Act, copyright subsists in a computer program for 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following year in which the author dies.

According to section 14 of the Copyright Act, ‘copyright’ means the exclusive right to do any of the following:

· To reproduce a computer program in any material form, including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means.

· To issue copies of the computer program to the public.

· To perform the computer program in public, or communicate it to the public.

· To make any cinematography film or sound recording in respect of the computer program.

· To make any translation of the computer program.

· To make any adaptation of the work.

· To do about a translation or an adaptation of the computer program, any of the acts specified above.

· To sell, give on hire, offer for sale or offer for employment, any copy to computer programs.

2. Social media:

This is a platform that connects people through various sites. Copyright violation of social media platform can be in the form of:

· Re-posting, saving, or sharing of works protected under Copyright.

· Re-posting and calming ownership or creation rights of already protected work.

· Using the content available on the platform without the owner’s prior permission.

3. Hot-linking:

It displays an image on the website hosting that image. This tends to violate the rights of the copyright owner by the process of hot-linking or linking.

4. Derivative work:

Generally, in this case, two or more programs are compiled together to create a derivative work; then, in such cases, it amounts to infringement or violation of the copyright owner.

John Doe Order:

When an order is passed against unknown defendants that are whose identity is not known, such orders are known as ‘John Doe’ Orders.

Taj television Ltd. & Anr. Vs. Rajan Mandal & ors. :

In this case, the plaintiff, Taj Television Ltd., has been granted exclusive right to broadcast the World Cup Football 2002. The plaintiff channel carried a variety of programs, cricket highlights, WWF matches, etc. The plaintiff was, therefore, the owner of the broadcast reproduction right as provided under s.37 of Copyright Act 1957.

The World Cup Football match had begun, programs and some of the defendants were unauthorizedly transmitting the Ten Sports channel in India.

The court took into consideration the unique nature of cable piracy, the unstructured nature of the cable industry, and information about cable operators and passed the John Doe order. By collecting necessary evidence, the court, based on the report of the Court Commissioner, would then consider taking appropriate actions, both civil and criminal, against them.

Infringement of Copyright:

The copyright in a computer program is deemed to be infringed when any person without a license or in contravention of the conditions of a permit:

Does anything, the exclusive right of which is conferred upon the owner of Copyright by the Copyright Act or,

Commercially permits any place to be used for the communication of infringing work to the public.

Punishment for Copyright infringement:

Knowingly using the infringing copy of a computer program on a computer is punishable will imprisonment for a term between 7 days and three years and a fine between Rs. 1 lakh and Rs.2 lakh.

Necessary steps to avoid Digital Copyright:

Block chain technology:

This is used to record every transaction that is taking place and wherein the parties agree to encode the block of digital data, which is identified and signed uniquely. To solve the Digital domain, it is considered to be one of the most acceptable methods in today’s era.

Digital watermarks:

In this technology, a watermark is embedded in the original work to avoid unauthorized copying. It is considered one of the easiest methods to trace the valid owner’s work and avoid duplication.

· Access control and copy control:

This software enables a person to trace his or her work or any illegal use of his career.

International Treaties and Conventions protecting Copyright in Digital Domain:

To keep a check against infringement of these rights, International organizations like World Intellectual Property Organizations (WIPO) have played a significant role.

Listed below are some of the essential International treaties and conventions-

World Copyright Treaty, 1996:

In the Berne convention, a special agreement was made to deal with the protection of the digital environment. For at least 50 years, it assures the safety of any digital work.

Copyright in the Digital Era:

According to the changing needs of society, various amendments are made under the Copyright Act 1957 to ensure the protection of the work of the creators. In 2012, the Copyright Act extended to the provision for the protection of Copyright in the field of digitization. S.52 of the Copyright Act lays down the guidelines of the Doctrine of fair use.


Digitization has helped creators to show up their real talent, but a lot of times, they are concerned about the infringement of their work. Though a lot of efforts have been taken to avoid violation of digital copyright on the National as well as International level, it is necessary to make sure that the original work of the creator is protected. Apart from making treaties and conventions on the International level, it is essential to spread awareness and train the agencies for the proper mechanism on the National level.


· Information Technology Law- Dr.S.R.Myneni

· Law relating to Intellectual Property- B.L.Wadhera