Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Article written under the guidance of Pulkit Mohan Singla (Law student )

With increasing instances of works being stolen, it becomes important to write about copyright and basic understanding about the same.

Copyright means the person who created a specific thing, owns the thing. It is his/her property. In case of poetry, articles, stories, novels, songs, art, photography; or anything that is creative, it becomes his/her intellectual property and the one who created it, owns it. The symbol © which is also written as 'copyright' OR (c), is most commonly used to imply that a certain thing is your own original work, created by you and owned by you. The Copyright Law, permits the right to property, to your own created work which is applicable with or without a legal registration. That means, if you have created it, you simply own it. But yes! In case of copyright infringement, you should be able to prove that it is created by you and that you are the rightful owner of your work.

There are several other symbols similar to copyright, serving almost similar function.

® Means Registered trademark. (To be used only when you have your content/firm/product/entity legally registered. It should be noted here that using this mark without legal registration is illegal in certain countries)

™ Means Trademark (may not be Registered) 

(P) copyright on Music

SM means service mark.

Picking up anything from a copyrighted content is counted as stealing or infringement and hence the term 'Copyright infringement' or 'stealing of Intellectual property' applies to these cases.

Now a days with the availability of enormous data on the internet, picking stuff off the internet has now become an involuntary habit. From everyday quotes to WhatsApp msgs to education to office works, everything is readily available within the search bar on Google. The only thing you need to know is: select -- Ctrl+C - Ctrl+V and you are ready with the best of content. The psychological need for every person to present their best, often makes them steal. 'If you give the credit to the original creator, you lose your credibility, your level of intelligence in front of the people you are presenting your stuff.' and this thinking makes you skip credits.

The question is: what is counted under 'stealing'? 
Ans: anything and everything that is not copyright free and is used with/without the name other than original creator, is counted under stealing.

Q. What is not counted under stealing?

1. Titles. ... The titles of a book, poem/story, music , is not counted under copyright infringement or stealing of Intellectual property. This means that as many as 100 people can name the title of their stuff as , say .. 'Love'.

Exception: the titles that are registered trademarks or registered entities or products or firms or patents , cannot be used and are counted under copyright infringement or stealing. Like for example, you cannot name your book as Harry Potter or Spider man or Disney. They are all registered trademarks.

2. Style of writing. The style of writing/composing is not counted under copyright. Therefore, writing in a haiku style or following any rhythm like other's is not a copyright infringement. 

3. when the content is used for criticism, news reporting , comments, teaching, research. 

4. Common phrases. Common phrases like sayings, idioms are not counted as copyright infringement. So writing phrases like: 'it was raining cats and dogs' or 'I love you' are not copyright infringement. Such contents are commonly used in novels.

PS: the phrases that have a specific element attached to it, which is unique to the creator of the work, cannot be copied and will be counted under copyright infringement. Therefore, 'it was raining cats n dogs when Meg ran away with Tom in a blue car, without thinking about her parents in California.' will be a copyright infringement if stolen from a content written by an author earlier.

5. Content with proper reference/credit. Anything from a content, which has references or source information provided with it, is not counted under copyright infringement.

For example:
Legal cases
Medical cases
Research studies

These references are provided as citations and written in a specific format.

6. Content written for educational purposes is not counted under copyright infringement BUT you need to provide references.  Such a content comes under 'Fair use' of copyright law.

7. Content written for non-commercial purposes. If you have picked a content for non commercial purposes or for personal use, it is covered under 'Fair use' of copyright law. BUT the definition of 'personal use' or 'non commercial use' is undetermined since it is very easy for anyone to describe the need as personal need and justify the unlawful usage of someone else's work.

The fair use of the copyright clause is often misused and hence in case of law suit, the use or misuse is determined by the intention of using the content.

8. When writing about things that have a set profile. Example. Writing about diseases. In the basic characteristics, signs, symptoms, diagnosis, the content remains unchanged and hence copyright infringement does not apply BUT the explanation and language in descriptions if same, counts under infringement. 

What you can do to save yourself from copyright infringement??

Frankly speaking, you cannot do anything except if you have a solid proof that the content belongs to you. In such case, if your work is stolen, you can file a lawsuit and there you will have to prove that you own the content that has been stolen.

Now there are various ways by which you can establish validity of your intellectual property.

1. Getting it legally registered. Legal registration is the most useful when you need to prove in the court of law that the content belongs to you.

What you are basically doing with a legal registration is that you are registering a date in the office of the govt, that certain work was created by you. Now when you need to prove your ownership, the date serves as an evidence that you wrote it first (if your registered date is prior to the date specified by the thief).

you can get your work easily copyrighted from copyright office of the government in about a month by paying the fee for the same .

2. Getting your stuff published (talking about books here). Although it is not a legal registration, but serves a similar goal. By getting your stuff published (be it on paper or online via eBook or magazine or similar), you create an evidence that provides a tentative or definitive date when your intellectual property was first launched/created. But since there are many people who are stealing content and getting it published in their name, it is advised that you post only your published content.

3. Get known. Big/famous entities never need to claim the ownership of their works. Circulate a Ghalib's shayari anywhere in the world, the world knows it is by Ghalib. 😃😃

4. For publishers: run a manual or software check for plagiarised or stolen or duplicated works. Sometimes it needs special check, since many people change order of words or substitute words in a stolen poem and claim it as their.

5. For Poets/writers: whenever you write, use your copyright and whenever you give references, add citations.
Citations can be added in many styles like MLA, APA, and  Vancouver ... and citation creators are available online... But if you are still confused, you can do this simple stuff:

Author name. Title. Book/magazine, page number.
Title. Website address.

In case of Pictures or content where you are not aware of sources or lost the sources .. simply add the disclaimer that you do not intend to steal this content and have used it under 'fair use' as specified by the Copyright Law. You can also add the Google sources from where you accessed the content from.

Selling of copyright:
When you sell your the copyright of your content or intellectual property, you sell the authority to use and edit the content as desired.

The clause claiming the sale of copyright is a common clause, often seen in publishing, designing and music contracts. Please know that IF you are not selling the copyright of your work and only giving a temporary authority to the publisher/producer to use your content, then DO NOT approve of this clause. Temporary authority means that you are giving your stuff for a temporary use at a certain price and that the ownership to the content belongs to you, but the selling of copyright implies that you are selling the ownership of your content. Therefore, be cautious when you see this clause in the contract.

Another type of contract is refraining you from using your own content or releasing it in other version, publishing it elsewhere without permission from publisher and even releasing it in different formats. Please be aware with this clause, because this restricts your authority over your content. By virtue of this, you cannot use your own stuff without the permission of the Publishers. It is noteworthy here that if you are not selling your copyright, no one can take the right to own your work from you. Therefore, please discuss the clauses in the contract , in detail, before you seal the deal. 

Copyright © 2016 by Dr. PRERNA SINGLA. All rights reserved. No part of this write may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the Author, except for noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

For permission requests, write to the Author, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the email address below.