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Copyright Act, 1957

13. Works in which copyright subsists-

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section and the other provisions of this Act, copyright shall subsist throughout India in the following classes of works, that is to say-

a. original, literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works,

b. cinematograph films, and

c.[(Note: Subs. by Act 38 of 1994, S.2 (w.e.f. a date to be notified) for "records" sound recordings.]

(2) Copyright shall not subsist in any work specified in sub section (1), other than a work to which the provisions of Section 40 or Section 41 apply, unless-

i. in the case of published work, the work is first published in India , or where the work is first published

outside India , the author is at the date of such publication, or in a case where the author was dead at that date, was at the time of his death, a citizen of India ,

ii. in the case of an unpublished work other than a [(Note: Subs. by Act 38 of 1994, S.2 (w.e.f. for "records") work of architecture], the author is at the date of making of the work a citizen of India or domiciled in India , and

iii. in the case of a [(Note: Subs. by Act 38 of 1994, S.2 (w.e.f. for "records") ] work of architecture , the work is located in India

Explanation- In the case of a work of joint authorship, the conditions conferring copyright specified in this sub section shall be satisfied by all the authors of the work.

(3) Copyright shall not subsist-

a. in any cinematograph film if a substantial part of the film is an infringement of the copyright in any other work,

b. in any [(Note: Subs. by Act 38 of 1994, S.2 (w.e.f. for "records") ] sound recording made in respect of a literary, dramatic or musical work, it in making the [(Note: Subs. by Act 38 of 1994, S.2 (w.e.f. for "records") ] sound recording, copyright in such work has been infringed.

(4) The copyright in a cinematograph film or a [(Note: Subs. by Act 38 of 1994, S.2 (w.e.f. for "records") ] sound recording shall not affect the separate copyright in any work in respect of which a substantial part of which, the film, or as the case may be, the [(Note: Subs. by Act 38 of 1994, S.2 (w.e.f. for "records") ] sound recording is made.

(5) In the case of a work or architecture, copyright shall subsist only in the artistic character and design and shall not extend to processes or methods or construction.


"Original" Meaning

The word 'original' does not in this connection mean that the work must be the expression or original or inventive though, Copyright Acts are not concerned with the origin of ideas, but with the expression of though; and in the case of 'literary work' with the expression of thought in print or writing. The originality which is required relates to the expression of the thought; but the Act does not require that the expression must be in an original or novel form, but that the work must not be copied from another work - that it should originate from the author.

In order to obtain copyright production for literary, domestic, musical and artistic works, the subject dealt with need not be original , nor the ideas expressed be something novel. What is required is the expenditure of original skill or labor in execution and not originality of thought.

No original thought or original research is required in order that a literary work may be deemed to be original. The standard of originality which is required is a low one.

In modern complex society provisions have to be made for protecting every man's copyright, whether high or small, whether involving a high degree of originality as in a new poem or picture, or only originality at the vanishing point as in a law report.

Copyright in abridgement

Strictly speaking, an abridgement of an author's work means a statement designed to be complete and accurate of the thoughts, opinions, and ideas by him expressed therein, but set forth much more concisely in the compressed language of the abridger.


Where the plaintiff's selection of poems was borrowed by the defendants, it was held that defendants book had infringed the copyright of the plaintiff. The true principle in all these cases is, that the defendant is not at liberty to use or avail himself of the labor which the plaintiff has been at for the purpose of producing his work, that is, in fact, merely to take away the result of another man's labor, or, in other words, his property.

Reports of judgments

It is generally true that in the reports of judgments the reporter has no copyright, but is cannot be said that in the selection of cases and in the arrangement of the reporting the reporter has not the protection of law. The defendant is entitled to report such judgments as he obtains by expenditure of his time, labor and money but where he fails to exert his own energies, he cannot be allowed to avail himself of other people's industry.

"Whilst all are entitled to resort to common sources of information none are entitled to save themselves trouble and expense by availing themselves for their own profit of other men's works, subject to copyright and entitled to protection."

Question papers

In a Patna case it has been held that question papers set at examination are original literary works though the paper-setter may have copied questions from textbooks.

Persons who set the question papers are authors of the work and they are the first owners of the copyright therein.

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