Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021
In India, the copyright regime is governed by the Copyright Act, 1957 and the Copyright Rules, 2013.
The amendments have been introduced with the objective of bringing the existing rules in parity with other relevant legislations.
- The amendments have harmonised the Copyright Rules with the provisions of Finance Act, 2017 whereby the Copyright Board has been merged with Appellate Board.
- To reinforce transparency in working of copyright societies a new rule has been introduced, whereby the copyright societies will be required to draw up and make public an Annual Transparency Report for each financial year.
- The compliance requirements for registration of software works have been largely reduced, as now the applicant has the liberty to file the first 10 and last 10 pages of source code.
- The time limit for the Central Government to respond to an application made before it for registration as a copyright society is extended to 180 days, so that the application can be more comprehensively examined.
- It aims to ensure smooth and flawless compliance in the light of the technological advancement in digital era by adopting electronic means as primary mode of communication and working in the Copyright Office.
- A new provision regarding publication of a copyrights journal has been incorporated, thereby eliminating the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette.
- In order to encourage accountability and transparency, new provisions have been introduced, to deal with the undistributed royalty amounts and use of electronic and traceable payment methods while collection and distribution of royalties.
Various International Treaties
There are different subject matters of intellectual property like Patents, Copyright, Trademarks, Industrial design, Plant Varieties etc. Need for protection in these different subjects arose in different periods. These are reflected in different treaties. Agreement on TRIPS, under aegis of WTO, remains most influential, comprehensive and inclusive of all. Other treaties are covered here for background information.
1. Paris Convention for Industrial Property, 1883 – Since it deals only with Industrial property, it covered only Patents and Trademarks. It was among first treaties to recognize various principles of international trade like National Treatment, Right of Priority, Common rules etc.
2. Bern convention for literary and artistic works, 1886 – It provided for copyright system. It doesn’t provide for any formality to claim protection. Protection is automatically accorded to any creation, provided work is original and other conditions under the treaty are fulfilled. It means that your work, if original, is already protected. You can claim that you have copyright.
3. Madrid Agreement, 1881 – Governs the international recognition of trademarks. Made international fillings easy and cheap.
4. Patent co-operation treaty, 1970 – It was earlier not possible for an entity to claim protection in different countries by single application. This was made possible as it aimed for co-operation and it was open for all parties to Paris convention.
5. Budapest Treaty of 1980 – It made possible patenting for micro-organisms. Claimant is required to deposit his invention on micro-organisms with an Authority – ‘International depository of Micro-Organisms’ under WIPO. He shall make all the adequate disclosures.
6. Trademark Law Treaty, 1994 – Harmonized administrative procedures and introduced ‘service marks’ in ambit of trade marks. Earlier trademarks were accorded only to goods.
7. The Hague agreement concerning the International Deposit of ‘Industrial Design’ 1925 – It created International Design Bureau of WIPO.
8. International Union for protection of new varieties of plants, 1961 – This provides breeders and farmers right to new plant varieties.
9. Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property – It is a landmark and most comprehensive treaty on Intellectual property. While earlier treaties’ subject matters were specific, TRIPS deal with 8 kinds of property rights – Patents, Trademarks, trade dress, Copyrights, Industrial Designs, Plant Varieties, Integrated Circuits and layouts, and Geographical Indication. Further, almost all countries are party to TRIP. In earlier treaties only limited countries participated. It also provides enforcement mechanism which was not available in WIPO treaties. It mandated all member countries to make their domestic laws complaint to TRIPS. India passed certain laws and amended others. India’s IPR regime now stands fully complaint to TRIPS. For E.g. India amended patent law in 2005 to provide ‘product’ patent protection. Earlier protection was available only to ‘processes’.
There are two main bodies – World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) under UN which administers 1-7 treaties mentioned below. 8th treaty is independent of any organization. Another relevant body is World Trading Organization. 9th (or TRIPS) is administered by WTO. 10th treaty comes under UNESCO.
TRIPS was results of discussions held in Uruguay round which led to formation of WTO. This treaty is an offshoot of General Agreement on Trade in Goods (GATT). This treaty provided a robust Dispute Resolution Mechanism and stringent penal provisions under auspices of WTO.
Every treaty under WTO is based some principle which are:
- National Treatment – No foreign products, once they enter domestic territories, shall be discriminated in any manner. This also applies to intellectual property. Members must accord similar treatment to foreign creations, as they do to domestic ones.
- Most Favored Nation – If a member provides some privilege, favorable treatment or exemption to another country or group, then other members must get similar favorable treatment.
- Right to priority treatment – If a similar patent application has been filed in two different countries, then prior applicant has right to the patent.
- Concept of Minimum Standards – This treaty provides for minimum level of protection that every member should provide to intellectual property. Members have discretion to provide more protection than minimum standards.
- Universal Copyright Convention, 1952 – This convention is administered by UNESCO. This exists simultaneously with Bern Convention. This treaty provides for procedural formalities for filing and recognition of copyright. As Bern convention provides for automatic route to copyright, this treaty has lost its relevance.