A Simple Guide to Copyright (part 3)
Can published and unpublished works be registered?
Yes, both published and unpublished works can be registered. Copyright in works published before 21st January, 1958, i.e., before the Copyright Act, 1957 came in force, can also be registered, provided the works still enjoy copyright. Two copies of published or unpublished work may be sent to the Copyright Office along with the application.
If the work to be registered is unpublished, a copy of the manuscript must be sent along with the application for affixing the stamp of the Copyright Office and, once the stamp is obtained, it is proof of the work having been registered. One copy of the same, duly stamped, will be returned by the Copyright Office, while the other will be retained in the Copyright Office for record and will be kept confidential. It is also open for the applicant to send only extracts of the unpublished work, instead of the whole manuscript, and ask for the return of the extract(s) after being stamped with the seal of the Copyright Office.
When a work has been registered as unpublished and, subsequently, it is published, the applicant may apply for changes in particulars entered in the Register of Copyright in Form XV with the prescribed fee.
In such instances, the process of registration and fee for registration of copyright is same.
What about registering computer software, websites, and apps?
Computer software or computer programmes can be registered as “literary work” as, as per Section 2 (o) of the Copyright Act, 1957, “literary work” includes computer programmes, tables, and compilations, including computer databases. In such cases, a ‘Source Code’ and ‘Object Code’ have also to be supplied along with the application for registration of copyright for software products.
Websites per se are not subject to copyright protection. Generally, non-copyrightable content particular to websites may include, but are not limited to, ideas or future plans of websites, functional elements of websites, unclaimable material, layout and format or “look and feel” of a website or its webpage; or other common, unoriginal material such as names, icons, or familiar symbols.
Nevertheless, websites usually consist of different elements which may be copyrightable if the subject matter falls within any one of the classes of works set forth in Section 13 of Copyright Act, 1957. Hence, such aspects can be copyright registered if the websites can be divided into different forms of digital files, such as text, tables, computer programmes, and compilations, including computer databases (“literary works”); photographs, paintings, diagram, map, chart or plan (“artistic works”); works consisting of music and graphical notations of such work (“musical works”); “sound recordings”; and “cinematograph films”.
Meanwhile, as far as an Apps are concerned, an App is a complete, self-contained computer programme that is designed to perform specific tasks. Usually called ‘Apps’ for short application programmes, they are the most familiar forms of software and are available in a very wide variety. An App usually has primarily dynamic content and is designed for user interaction. It may be used on a computer or through handheld devices.
An App may be registered as a computer programme under “literary” works as provided under Section 2(o) of the Copyright Act, 1957. For this purpose, the applicant is required to submit an application for registration under the software category, accompanied by the source code and object code as provided under Rule 70 (5) of the Copyright Rules, 2013.
It is relevant to mention here that the registration will cover screen displays generated by that programme, provided that the computer programme (code) generating the screen display is submitted by the applicant. Please note that mere snapshots of screen displays of an app are not eligible for copyright protection.
Parag Kamani is a media and entertainment lawyer with over 30 years of experience in the Indian music industry. He also contributes to the #SAundCheck blog regularly, and offers consultation services too in the field of copyright, trademark and more.