Shweta Mohandas

@says_shweta

IPR for Startups — Part III Copyrights

Life Lesson: Do not slack from writing to this extent that the show you use as an example, comes out with a new season before you come out with your next post.

Do you know which IP you would be infringing if you watched Silicon Valley on torrents, no points for guessing, it is Copyright. Yes, that IP right that most people are guilty of infringing in one-way or the other. This is a three part series on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for Indian startups; the other two parts can be accessed here and here.

What is a Copyright?

A Copyright protects original works from an unauthorized use. An original work means a work that is the authors creation and this can include literary, dramatic or musical artistic work. Copyright can be for books, songs, movies, paintings and *drum rolls please* computer programs. In India a copyright subsists for 60 years after the death of the author, after which the work goes into public domain. Meaning, that it ceases to have any copyright protection and can be used by anyone, without the fear of infringing the copyright.

Copyright for Computer Programs

In my earlier post about patents I had stated how difficult it is get software patent and a possible alternative to a patent is a copyright on the code. According to the Indian Copyrights Act the term ‘literary work’ includes computer programs, tables and compilations including computer databases in any tangible form.’ Hence having the computer program stored in any medium be it in a CD, flash drive or even on paper would suffice. Additionally the ‘Source Code’ should be provided along with the application for registration of copyright for software products.

Registration of Copyrights

The best part of a copyright is that it starts to exist as soon as the work is created. Although registration is advised, the absence of a registration does not take away the rights of the author or owner. The owner of a copyright can be different from the author, in cases where the work is part of a job. Graphic designer, writers, illustrators and even coders are a few examples of people who might create work as a part of their employment. The ownership of the copyright would depend on the terms of the agreement. In case you want to get a copyright registered the Application form and the online process can be accessed here.

Copyright Infringement

In simple terms copyright infringement is the act of doing something, which the owner of the copyright is entitled by law to do. This includes publishing, selling, and licensing. In India Copyright infringement draws both civil and criminal remedies. The civil remedies available for copyright infringement are injunction (preventing a person from continuing to infringe) and damages (monetary compensation for the harm caused).

If the next sentence makes you a bit queasy then I think there is a cause for concern! Penalty for knowingly using infringing computer software is imprisonment for any amount of time between seven days to three years and a fine between Rs. 50,000 — Rs. 2 Lacs.

Copyrights may seem less of the star in a business unlike patents or trademarks, but they are an integral IP, especially because it covers a wide range of intellectual work. As a startup the most important thing is to value the IP of others just as much as you would want others to value your IP.

More by Shweta Mohandas

Topics of interest

More Related Stories