A A
Search

Copyrightable subject matter: All you need to know - Part 2

Musical work Sound recording Computer programmes Cinematographic film

Read time: 7 minutes
Inhouse credit: Editor: Amoolya Jain
Last updated: 21/10/2021

Share

Bookmark


Image Credit: http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/typewriter/c/copyright.html

Synopsis: The article, which is the second part of a two-article series, discusses the subject matters of Copyright: musical work, sound recording, computer programmes and cinematograph film. The author provides a practical checklist for registrations and other procedural requirements.

 

Part 1 of this article discusses other subject matters of copyright such as literary work, dramatic work and artistic work. Click here to read more.

 

MUSICAL WORK

Musical work includes graphically represented notations that indicate the pitch location of sound on the scale, duration, timbre and volume of the music. There are various systems of notations like verbal, alphabetical, numerical, graphic and tabulators. The difference between a musical work and a song (sound recording) is that the former is a set of instructions while the latter is the performance using such instructions. In simpler words, musical work is to sound recording as literary work (poem) is to a dramatic work (recitation of such poem). Thus, musical work used in sound recording or films retains its separate identity as a copyright work under an independent category. 

  1. Statutory definition

Section 2(p) of the Copyright Act, 1957 (‘the Act’) defines musical works as a work consisting of music and includes any graphic notation of such work but does not include any works or any action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with the music. However, the word ‘music’ is undefined by the Act.

  1. What can be registered under the head of musical works?

Musical work is not merely a combination of harmony and melody or either of them. Musical works include graphical notations and there are various systems of notation like verbal, alphabetical, numerical, graphic and tabulators.

  1. What cannot be registered under the head of musical works?

Lyrics

Lyrics are the subject matter of literary work and are not to be confused with music.

Audio recording of songs with vocals

Audio recordings with vocals are the subject matter of sound recordings and are not to be confused with music.

Audio recording of songs without vocals (instrumental)

Audio recordings without vocals are the subject matter of sound recordings and are not to be confused with music.

  1. Documents required
    Form XIV along with Statements of Particulars and Statement of Further Particulars duly filled and signed by the applicant. At least two copies of work in hard copy are required to be submitted along with the application.
  2. Term of protection
    The duration of copyright for a musical work is the lifetime of the composer and 60 years counted from the year following his death (Life + 60 years).
  3. Fee
    The requisite fee required to be submitted is Rs.500 per work.
  4. How to submit the work?
    The work can be provided in printed form, a pen drive or CD.
  5. Tips

This category is not to be confused with sound recording.

 

SOUND RECORDING
Any sound created by humans or otherwise, including songs, speech, etc. recorded on any medium is called a sound recording. The distinction between sound recording and other subject matters of copyright is that sound recording is recorded on a medium. A sound recording could contain more than one subject matter of copyright all of which will continue to have independent copyright.

  1. Statutory definition

According to Section 2(xx) of the Act, 1957 sound recording means a recording of sounds from which such sounds may be produced regardless of the medium on which such recording is made or the method by which the sounds are produced.

According to Section 13(4) of the Act, the copyright in a sound recording shall not affect the separate copyright in any work in respect of which or a substantial part of which the sound recording is made.

  1. What can be registered under the head of sound recording?

Audiobook

If recorded on a medium.

Audio song with or without vocals

Audio songs with vocals or just instrumental pieces are covered

Cover version

Cover version of the original songs if they have necessary permissions. 

Audio recording of lecture/speech

While lectures and speeches are a subject matter of literary work, when they are delivered and recorded on a medium, they become subject matters of sound recording.

  1. What cannot be registered under the head of sound recording?

Book that is audio recorded

The audiobook is protected as a sound recording which is separate from the copyright granted to the book, which is the subject matter of a literary work.

Lyrics of a song

The audio song recording is a sound recording which is separate from the copyright granted to the lyrics which is the subject matter of literary work.

Lecture/speech

The audio recording of a lecture/speech is a sound recording which is separate from the copyright granted to the lecture/speech which is the subject matter of literary work.

Musical work

The audio recording of a musical work is a sound recording which is separate from the copyright granted to the musical work itself.

  1. Documents required

Form XIV along with Statements of Particulars and Statement of Further Particulars duly filled and signed by the applicant. At least two copies of work in hard copy are required to be submitted along with the application.

  1. Term of protection

The term of protection is 60 years which is counted from the year following the date of publication.

  1. Fee
    The requisite fee to be submitted for registration is Rs. 2000 per track/work.
  2. How to submit the work?
    The work can be provided in a pen drive, CD or hard disk.
  3. Tips

One track will be treated as one work for which a separate application should be filed and fee paid. If multiple tracks are provided as a series/collection of sound recordings, the applicant will have to file separate applications for each of such track with requisite fees. E.g. For 5 audio songs in a music CD, 5 separate applications will have to be filed.

 

COMPUTER SOFTWARE

Computer programs are composed of literary codes known as source codes and object codes. These codes determine how a computer program functions. In other words, computer program is a set of instructions, written in a programming language by a human such that the computer can understand and perform the function using the instructions. Since these codes are literary codes, they are considered copyrightable under the subject matter of a literary work.

  1. Statutory definition

According to Section 2(o) of the Act, literary work includes computer programme and computer databases. Further, Section 2(ffb) of the Act states that a computer includes any electronic or similar device having information processing capabilities.
According to Section 2(ffc) of the Act, computer programme means a set of instructions expressed in words, codes, schemes or in any other form, including a machine readable medium, capable of causing a computer to perform a particular task or achieve a particular result.

  1. What can be registered under the head of computer software?

Computer database

In Burlington Home Shopping Private Ltd. v. Rajnish Chibber, 1995 PTC (15) 278, it was held that computer databases are protectable subject matter.

Computer programme

In Apple Computer Inc. v. Computer Edge Pvt. Ltd, [1984] ANZCompuLawJl 13, it was held that computer software indicating source and object code of computer programme is entitled to copyright protection.

Mobile application

Mobile apps are considered as computer software.

  1. What cannot be registered under the head of computer software?
    Works that are provided in a format that is not executable/machine-readable cannot be protected. E.g. source code and object code provided in printed forms are not allowed.
  2. Documents required
    Form XIV along with Statements of Particulars and Statement of Further Particulars duly filled and signed by the applicant. At least two copies of work in hard copy are required to be submitted along with the application.
  3. Term of protection

The duration of copyright for a computer software is the lifetime of the author, and 60 years counted from the year following the death of the author (Life + 60).

  1. Fee
    The requisite fee for registration is Rs.500 per work.
  2. How to submit the work?
    The work can be provided in a pen drive, CD or hard disk.
  3. Tips
  • Proper source code and object code is required to be submitted in an executable format.
  • The work should not be given in printed form, in PDF or word file.
  • Programming languages are required to be mentioned on the application form against the specified column.

 

CINEMATOGRAPHIC FILM
Recording of moving images like photographs, stills, drawings, animated content etc. are considered a cinematograph film. Cinematograph film also includes movies, videos, animated films, visual recordings, documentaries, etc.

  1. Statutory definition

According to Section 2(f) of the Act, cinematographic film means any work of visual recording and includes a sound recording accompanying such visual recording and ‘cinematograph’ shall be construed as including any work produced by any process analogous to cinematography including video films.

According to Section 2(xxa) of the Act “visual recording” means the recording in any medium, by any method including the storing of it by any electronic means, moving images or of the representations thereof, from which they can be perceived, reproduced or communicated by any methods.

  1. What can be registered under the head of cinematographic film?

Movie & animated films

If original and fixed on a visual medium.

Parody

Parody is allowed by virtue of Section 52 of the Act under fair dealing.

Video recording of choreography, classroom lecture & public delivery of lecture

If original and fixed on a visual medium.

Video advertisements

If original and fixed on a visual medium.

Music video, plays, newsreel, documentaries

If original and fixed on a visual medium.

  1. What cannot be registered under the head of Cinematographic film?

Artists performance in the film

This is addressed in Section 38 of the Act which provides for performers’ rights.

CD/DVD cover containing the work

 

The subject matter of cinematograph film is only the visual recording contained in the CD/DVD. The CD/DVD cover is a subject matter of artistic work and should be protected separately.

Movie script

Movie scripts are in written form and hence a subject matter of literary work.

  1. Documents required

Form XIV along with Statements of Particulars and Statement of Further Particulars duly filled and signed by the applicant. At least two copies of work in hard copy are required to be submitted along with the application.

A copy of Deed of Assignments in original or notarized. If no such assignments are made, NOCs must be obtained from various copyright holders and enclosed with the application.

  1. Term of protection
    The duration of copyright for a cinematograph film is 60 years which is counted from the year following the date of publication.
  2. Fee
    The requisite fee for registration is Rs.5000 per work.
  3. How to submit the work?
    The work can be provided in a pen drive, CD or hard disk.
  4. Tips
  • One track will be treated as one work for which a separate application should be filed and fee paid. In case multiple visual recordings are provided as a series/collection of videos, the applicant will have to file separate applications for each such track with the requisite fees.
  • Cinematographic film contains many copyrights within it. Applying for copyright under this category does not bar the applicant from seeking separate copyrights for the underlying works.

 

Conclusion

The Act, under Section 13 identifies various subject matters of copyright and lists out a few such inclusions and exclusions under each subject matter. However, unlike trademark or design law, copyright subject matters are not provided in a detailed table.

It is the need of the hour for such a classification to be made available to applicants to provide further clarity. This article is an attempt to identify and segregate copyrightable subject matters under each of the heads. This article is an attempt to provide a non-exhaustive subject matter table for copyrights which hopefully acts as a handy guide.

 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. The same cannot be construed as legal advice.





Ritu Meena

Legal Assistant
Copyright Office, New Delhi

Ritu Meena is working as a Copyright Examiner in Copyright Office, New Delhi.

Ms. Meena pursued her LL.B from Delhi University and LL.M, with specialization in IPR, from NLU Jodhpur. She is currently pursuing Ph.D in IPR from Jaipur National University.

SUBSCRIBE

DROP YOUR CV