Term and Ownership of Copyright

Term and Ownership of Copyright

The duration of protection for copyright works varies according to the type of work and the date of creation of the work. It is divided as follows:

Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works:
The Copyright expires after 60 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies. Where a work has a joint author/co-author, it expires 60 years from the end of the calendar year in which the co-author dies. Where the author’s identity is unknown, copyright expires 60 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first published. In a case where there are joint authors/co-authors, and the identity of one author is known and the identity of the other is unknown, the copyright expires 60 years from the end of the calendar year in which the known author dies.

Cinematograph films:
The Copyright shall subsist until 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the film is made available to the public.

Sound recordings:
The Copyright shall subsist until 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the sound recording is made available to the public.

Further, the author’s moral right, which is a right against distortion, is available even after the expiry of the term of copyright.

The ownership of copyright is dependent on various factors. The concept of “first owner” is quite important and may be determined as follows:

In the case of a literary, dramatic or artistic work (which includes a photograph, painting or a portrait) created during the course of employment or under a contract of service or apprenticeship, for the purpose of publication in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, the author of such a publication shall, in the absence of a contract to the contrary, be the first owner of copyright.

However, such ownership shall vest with the proprietor of the publication only for the limited purpose of publishing the work or a reproduction of the work in a publication and, for all other purposes, the copyright shall vest with the author of the work.

If a photograph, painting or portrait has not been made for the purposes of publication in a periodical but has been made for any other purpose, then in the absence of a contract to the contrary, the copyright in such work shall vest with the person at whose instance the work was created.

In the case of a cinematograph film, in the absence of a contract to the contrary, the copyright in the cinematograph film shall vest with the producer of the film (i.e. the person at whose instance the film was made for a valuable consideration).

In the case of a work made during the course of employment or under a contract of service or apprenticeship, the employer shall, in the absence of a contract to the contrary, be the first owner of copyright. In the case of a government work, the copyright in the work shall vest with the Government.

The copyright can be jointly owned as well. As per the Act, work of joint authorship means a work produced by the collaboration of two or more authors in which the contribution of one author is not distinct from the contribution of the other author or authors. Joint authors fully enjoy all of the rights granted by the Act, as mentioned previously. The term of copyright of a work of joint authorship is calculated with respect to the author that dies last.

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