Do we understand copyright protection in digital era?

Do we understand copyright protection in digital era?

This article is written by Richa Vyas, Student of VIT School of Law, Chennai Campus, Tamil Nadu. Topic covers an overview of copyright protection in digital era.


The need for copyright protection has now become a must, as the internet has become more widespread. Currently, to cover Internet objects, copyright law has been modified, much as it has been adapted over the years to protect many other new media. New ideas such as computer systems, computer databases, computer formats, different web works, etc., have been generated with the advancement of new technologies. Therefore, concerning electronic programs/software, computer databases and different work in cyberspace, it is very interesting to know more about copyright. Copyright is a salient concern in the modern age of intellectual property rights.


The term database describes a formal or methodical compilation of works, documents or other resources (i.e. the selection of facts) organized by logical principles. In other words, we can also say that the programmer ordered the configuration.

It is very much important to differentiate between creative and non-creative databases when relating to databases since each is dealt with under a separate set of legal laws. For the life of copyright, according to Lord Atkinson,’ it is important that labour, ability and resources should be invested enough to give the product some consistency or character that the raw material does not have and that separates the product from the material.’[1]

In India, databases have been regarded as literary works. ‘Literary work’ involves computer systems, tables and collection, and computer libraries, according to the Copyright Act, 1957[2].



If it is a product of a great deal of work, ability and labour, a database is liable for copyright protection. It has to follow the test of ‘originality’ to gain such protection. Compilation of non-original works can also possess the originality necessary. Original does not indicate that original or innovative thinking is articulated.

The laws of copyright do not include the origin of ideas, rather the expression of ideas and, in the case of literary work, the expression of ideas in print or writing.[3]

The compilation author chooses individual archive objects to include them in an:[4]

  1. Orderly approach
  2. Arrangement for consumers in an appropriate manner
  3. The compilation instructions are sufficiently original.


As we see and study law, we see various laws that deal with the protection of database in our laws. The Databases are classified as collections of literature and artistic works or as compilations. Database protection is granted by the Indian Copyright Act, revised in 1994, as ‘literary works’ that contain works such as computer systems, tables and compilations, and computer databases, among others (The Copyright Act, 1994). Regardless of how the commodity appears, it is the talent, labour, and judgment of the author that is covered.

Under Section 2(o), the Information Technology Act, 2000 describes “Data” as a representation of information, knowledge, statistics, principles or instructions that are being prepared or prepared in a formalized manner and are intended for collection, processing or processing on a device, computer system or computer network and may be printed out in any form (including) by a computer.

Under the Indian Legal System, the term computer database was first established in the Information Technology Act, 2000 under Section 43 Explanation (ii) as a representation of information, knowledge, details, concepts or instructions in text, picture, audio, video data being prepared or prepared in a formalized manner or generated by a computer, computer system.

Section 66 of the Information Technology Act allows for criminal liabilities by an individual who, to inflict or intentionally cause injury or damage or harm to the public or another person, changes or damages any information residing in the computer property or reduces its importance or usefulness or injuriously affects it by anyway, the word widely used for such offences is ‘hacking’.

Significant amendments were made to the Indian Copyright (Copyright Protection) Law in 1994 which came into force on 10 May 1995. The Indian Copyright law made these changes or revisions one of the hardest in the world. The reforms passed in June 1994 to the Copyright Act were, in itself, a milestone in the copyright arena in India. The Copyright Law was specifically stated for the first time in India:

  1. A copyright holder’s rights
  2. The status of technical rentals
  3. The user’s privileges to make backup copies

The Copyright Act was important because most software is easy to replicate, and the copy is generally as good as the original. Some key features are:

  1. It is illegal to produce or distribute copies of copyrighted software without appropriate or clear permission, according to Section 14 of this Act[5].
  2. In both civil and criminal law, the violator will be prosecuted.
  3. An injunction, real liability (including the income of the violator) or statutory damages per violation etc. can be imposed for civil and criminal action.
  4. Heavy punishment and fines for patent misuse in software.
  5. Section 63 B allows for a minimum time of incarceration of 7 days, which can be extended by up to 3 years.

Also Read: Mischief : Ingredients, Scope and Punishments


The Internet infrastructure in India is expanding exponentially. There are several Internet-related concerns. Yet one of the Internet’s main problems is the defense of intellectual property — the work of the imagination. In compliance with Sections 13 and 63 of the Indian Copyright Protection Act of 1957, without the consent of the copyright holder, literary works, photographs, sound recordings and other artistic works are shielded from being copied. How copyright law regulates or may regulate these materials when they exist on the Internet is still uncertain.[6]

The Copyright Act, 1957 does not deal at all with the obligation of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). However, in Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the responsibility of ISPs is stated as follows:

“Network service providers not to be liable in certain cases: For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that no person providing any service as a network service provider shall be liable under this Act, rules or regulations made thereunder for any third party information or data made available by him if he proves that the offence or contravention was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence or contravention.

An explanation for this Section:

  1. ‘Network service provider’ means an intermediary
  2. ‘Third party information’ means any information dealt with by a network service provider in his capacity as an intermediary.’ [7]

The actions concerning ‘fair use’ of the task do not represent a violation of the copyright. The definition of ‘fair use’ is, however, a debatable issue and the courts have determined is based on each case’s facts and circumstances. For example, without the owner’s consent, the use of patented material for analysis, thesis, review, publishing, law, etc. does not amount to copyright infringement.

Article 79 of the IT Act excludes ISPs, where they either refused to be aware of the crime committed by an ISP or have been taking ‘all due caution’ to deter any violation, from responsibility to third party information or to data made accessible by the ISP.


Therefore it is possible to conclude that we have given the general privileges of the owners of electronic software, libraries and internet which are owned by the owners of copyrighted literary work, art pieces, dramatic works, films etc. The Internet has exceeded the statute, but the question emerging is whether the development of technology shakes copyright and whether it is relevant in the modern world. We have already come across several examples where copyright infringement cases like ‘Udta Punjab’ movie where before its release date, the film was leaked online.

The person responsible was 25 years old from Mumbai and was convicted under the information technology Act or the latest case where Nandi Chinni Kumar, a Hyderabad-based filmmaker, has appealed against the Amazon Prime and the producers of the forthcoming Hindi movie “Jhund” starring Amitabh Bachchan as the lead role. The filmmaker has also sued Jhund’s developers with a supposed violation of copyright. Therefore we can say that the government is trying to solve the issues that come up still the organizations must be aware of the need for the defense of copyright to discourage unauthorized application.




[1] Macmillan & Co. Ltd v. Cooper, (1924) 40 TLR 186 at p. 188

[2] Section 2(o)

[3] Jain,Pankaj & Rai Pandey Sangeet, Copyright & Trademark Laws relating to Computers. (2005) at p. 49

[4] Samaddar Shefalika, Intellectual Property Right Issue in Digital Era Part I – Copyright law

[5] Indian Copyright Act, 1957

[6] Saha Subhasis & Keshari Sourav, Challenges to Copyright Work in Cyberspace, Journal of Intellectual Property Rights Vol. 13.Jan 2008. at p.35.

[7] 2020. Network Service Providers Not To Be Liable In Certain Cases | Ministry Of Electronics And Information Technology, Government Of India. [online] Available Here [Accessed 11 November 2020].

Leave a Comment

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker

Refresh Page