International Copyrights- How to apply?

Last Updated On: Sept. 16, 2021, 12:16 a.m.


International copyright law doesn't exist! Each country has its own domestic copyright laws that apply to its own citizens, and also to the use of foreign content when used in one's country. It allows creators and content owners around the world and citizens of many countries to enjoy copyright protection in countries other than their own. Read below for practical tips on addressing international copyright issues that you face.



With the internet and the way we use, share and publish content in our digital environment, many issues that were once domestic copyright issues have become international copyright issues. A global copyright issue arises in a variety of situations. You have to think globally if any of the following examples apply to you:

An employee accesses your licensed databases while traveling out of the country

You’re negotiating a digital license with a vendor/publisher/content owner who's based outside your own country

Librarians from more than one country (e.g., South Africa, Australia, Canada and the U.S.) join a journal club and share articles through the club (a journal club involves posting articles to a private online space)

  • Two colleagues share research papers by authors from several countries via Sharepoint
  • You post content on a website or intranet that will be accessed outside your own country
  • You post a photograph on your Facebook page and someone accesses that photograph from another country
  • Your organization has locations or employees in more than one country
  • You’re teaching an online course with students located in more than one country
  • You're using content from outside your own country


Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

The Berne Convention addresses the protection of works as well as the rights of their authors. It is based on three fundamental principles and includes several provisions determining the minimum level of protection to be provided, as well as special provisions available to developing countries that wish to use them.

The Berne Convention requires protection for all creative works in a fixed medium to be automatic. This means that no registration or deposit must be made with a government copyright office to have copyright protection. There are, however, voluntary government registration systems where copyright owners can register their works, to obtain certain rights and benefits especially in cases of copyright infringement. 

Therefore, the fundamental principles on which the convention is based are as follows:

  • Principle of National Treatment – Works originating in one of the Contracting States (that is, works the author of which is a national of such a State or works first published in such a State) must be given the same protection in each of the other Contracting States as the latter grants to the works of its nationals
  • Principle of ‘Automatic” Protection’ – Protection must not be conditional upon compliance with any formality
  • Principle of ‘Independence’ of Protection – Protection is independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work (principle of “independence” of protection).


Application for International Copyright

Because India is a signatory to the Berne Convention, copyright protection is available in a number of countries around the world, even if the work was first published in India. Thus, even without formally applying for protection, copyright protection is available to works first published in India, across several countries.

Moreover, any work which falls under the categories of literature, drama, music, art, cinematography, sound recordings qualifies for copyright protection. The work sought to be copyrighted must be original; however, the work doesn’t need to have some original thought or idea. The law is only concerned about the originality of the expression of thought.


Copyright Law in India

The Copyright Act of 1957 (the Act), supported by the Copyright Rules of 1958, is India’s governing law for copyright protection. 

Because India has a common law legal system, it relies on case law to interpret and establish precedents in law, and judicial decisions contribute to the sources of copyright law in India. India is a signatory to the Berne Conventions as well as the Universal Copyright Convention. 

The Indian government also passed the International Copyright Order, 1999. This Order provides that any work first published in any country that is a member of any of the above conventions receives the same treatment as if it were first published in India.

The Copyright Act of 1957 and the Copyright Rules of 2013 govern the copyright registration process in India. Any original artistic work, cinematographic film, music composition, literary/dramatic work, sound recording, or software that is a tangible expression of thought can be copyrighted.

The following are some basic recommendations:

  • An application for registration has to be made on Form IV (Including Statement of Particulars and Statement of Further Particulars) as prescribed in the First Schedule to the Rules
  • Each application must be accompanied by the requisite fee as prescribed in the second schedule either in the form of a Demand Draft or an Indian Postal Order favouring the “Registrar Of Copyright Payable At New Delhi” or through E-payment
  • The application must contain the necessary signatures and Power(s) of the Attorney
  • Three copies of the work must be submitted with the application. If the work is unpublished, a copy of the manuscript should be sent with the application
  • Following that, a Diary Number is assigned to track the status of the application, which is subject to a 30-day mandatory waiting period for inviting any objections
  • If there are no objections, the application will be forwarded to an examiner. If the examiner does not find any errors in the application, the registration process will be completed.

Copyright © 2013-2021 - All Right Reserved