Remedies Against Infringement of Copyright

Remedies Against Infringement of Copyright

The Act provides the following remedies for copyright infringement:

  • Civil
  • Criminal
  • Administrative

However, it is only the first two remedies, civil and criminal, which are of any real practical importance. Under civil remedies, one may file for interlocutory injunction, pecuniary remedies, Anton Piller orders, Mareva injunction and accounts rendition, delivery of infringing copies and damages for conversion. Under criminal remedies, one may file for imprisonment and fine, seizure of infringing copies and delivery of them to the owner. Under administrative remedies, one may file for moving the Registrar to ban the import of infringing copies and delivery of the confiscated infringing copies to the owner.

There are specific remedies for online copyright infringement as well. A court can direct that infringing websites be blocked by internet service providers (ISPs) either as part of a John Doe order or a website-blocking order [RK Productions v BSNL (2012) 5 LW 626]. John Doe or Ashok Kumar orders are ex-parte interim injunctions issued against infringers. John Doe orders saw a change when the Bombay High Court passed an order dated July 26, 2016 in relation to the movie ‘Dishoom’ [Eros International and Another Vs BSNL & Others, Notice of Motion (L) No. 2147 Of 2016 in  Suit (L) No. 751 OF 2016]. This order recognises the impact of Ashok Kumar orders on unknown defendants as it challenges to balance the ‘competing rights’. The order lays down a process to minimise the negative impacts of Ashok Kumar orders and tailors down blocking from entire websites. The order sets in place a mechanism that provides for selective blocking of content, verification of the list of URLs as well as safeguards for the unknown defendants.  Such a mechanism helps ensure that freedom of speech online is not trampled in the fight against online piracy.

The Act says that any person who circumvents an effective technological measure applied for the purpose of protecting any of the rights conferred by the Act, with the intention of infringing such rights, shall be punishable.

The Act prescribes that the intentional infringement or abetment of an infringement of the copyright in a work would be considered as criminal act. Criminal remedies for copyright infringement include:

  • Punishment through imprisonment which may not be less than six months but which may extend to three years
  • Fines which shall not be less than Rs.50,000 and which may extend to Rs.200,000
  • Search and seizure of the infringing goods including plates, which are defined as including blocks, moulds, transfers, negatives, duplicating equipment or any other device used or intended to be used for printing or reproducing copies of the work
  • Delivery up of infringing copies or plates to the owner of the copyright

The time limit for bringing a copyright infringement claim is three years from the date of infringement. Where the cause of action for filing a suit for infringement of copyright is a recurring one or continuing in nature, the limitation period of three years would be taken to commence from the date of such last infringement.

Under the Act, the plaintiff can seek recovery of all three remedies, namely

  • account of profits
  • compensatory damages
  • conversion damages, which are assessed on the basis of value of the article converted


Every suit or civil proceeding in respect of the infringement of copyright can be instituted before a District Court or above. The Copyright Board is a body constituted by the Central Government to discharge certain judicial functions under the Act. The Board is entrusted with the task of adjudication of disputes pertaining to copyright registration, assignment of copyright, grant of licences in respect of works withheld from public, unpublished Indian works, production and publication of translations and works for certain specified purposes. It does not deal with copyright infringement cases or with criminal piracy of copyright works.

In India, the Copyright Office is the government body responsible for promoting and enforcing copyright. The Office is under the control of the Registrar of Copyrights who acts under the direction of the Central Government. Specifically, the Copyright Office is under the aegis of the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

In India, there are some registered copyright societies which undertake the management and protection of copyright in works of authors and other owners of such works.

Some of them are listed below:

  • Musical works: The Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS)
  • Sound recording: Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)
  • Reprographic (photo copying) works: Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO)
  • Performers’ (Singers’) Rights: Indian Singers’ Rights Association (ISRA)


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