Fair Use of Copyrighted Work, Copyright Protection in Cyberspace

Copyright Protection in Cyberspace

“What is worth copying is prima facie worth protecting” – David Bainbridge


The word “Copyright” means getting a legal right or protection over one’s creation. Copyright Act, 1957 in India protects the artistic, literary, musical, and dramatic work of an Individual. The law confers a bundle of exclusive rights to the owner which enables an owner to get economic benefits. The copyright law has twofold rights economic and moral rights which are conferred to the owner. Section 14 of the act prescribes certain right which is given to the owner to enjoy and exploit several rights which include the right to reproduce the work, to make copies, perform k in public, and make adaptations, translations, selling or rental rights in different categories of work[i].

The objective of the copyright law is to promote creativity or encourage. Authors, composers, directors to create original works by way of providing them the exclusive right.[ii] The term of copyright is the life of the author plus sixty years for individual authors and cinematographic films. Or sound recording is sixty years after this works comes to the public domain. Where, anyone can reproduce them without permission.

Technological progress and advancement have made copying of copyright material easy and simple. The term “Copyright infringement” means exercising any right to the work of the copyright holder without his authorization. Section 51 of the Copyright Act deals with the infringement of copyright and safeguards the right of the owner.[iii] Under the copyright act there can be civil liability as well as criminal liability for copyright infringement. Civil liability includes damages, injunction, and paying of profits and costs whereas criminal liability includes Imprisonment, fine and search and seizure.


The word “cyberspace” can be described as an environment where people communicate through computers with the use of the internet. In a digital world where technologies are advancing day by day, people have become dependent upon electronic gadgets and internet service providers. The growth in technological advancements has led to the proliferation of e-business due to the easy and fast way of communication, accessibility, and convenience. While it has many advantages, the flipside is that it poses a threat to copyright infringement due to easy access of information and duplicating or copying the information that is on the internet.


The innovation in technologies led to the evolution of copyright law. Due to the advancement, it becomes difficult to maintain the balance between the protections of the copyright owner in the exploitation of their work and the free flow of information on the internet. Many challenges are face by the copyright owner for protecting his copyright in cyberspace as the Internet raises a host of legal issues. Copyright protection in cyberspace becomes challenging firstly, the digitalization of the copyrighted work of the owner and secondly the transmission of work through technology has become rapid and easy.

The major challenges that occur are first, ease in creating copies of the content that is on the internet and getting it published in his own name[iv]. Secondly, piracy has work has become very easy and rapid due to technological advancements. Thirdly, combining the digital works and creating a new product also users can easily modify the digital works. Lastly, the mew works in the digital form can be create from the printed works. It is important to understand the challenges that have posed by the internet which creates a threat to copyright infringement.


Digital Rights Management is a set of policies, techniques, and tools that guide the appropriate use of content. Some of the methods of Digital Rights Management are digital watermarking, encryption, electronic signature, etc.[v]The technique of digital watermarking is use by internet services like YouTube, also use in the images to get its copyright. The laws that have brought by the countries to abide by the Digital Right Management System.

Article 11 of the WIPO Treaty, 1996 has a regulation which states nations should abide by the DRM and encourages people to use the techniques which can avoid the act of piracy. Similarly, the United States of America, enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Europe passed the European Directive, 2001. In India the Copyright Act, 1957 was amended in 2012, and section 65A deals with the protection of technological measures and 65B deals with the protection of rights management information to bring the Digital Right Management System which helps to avoid piracy.


In India, section 51 of the copyright act deals with copyright infringement. Due to the advancement in technologies, infringing copyright has become an easy task as anyone with a computer can modify or copy content from the internet. Under section 2(o) of the copyright act, the computer program and database are protected under literary work. Section 65A and 65B has been added in the copyright via amendment in 2012 these provisions play a significant role where authors are using Digital Rights Managements for protecting their copyright from being infringed.

The issue of liability of internet intermediaries arises when there is copyright infringement. There are two types of liability primary and secondary.  Primary liability includes any direct infringement whereas secondary liability includes any Indirect and contributory infringement.

The issue arises of the liability of internet service providers, who act as a medium between the customers and website owners, and they are recognize as a secondary liability but they have a primary liability to take down the content which amounts to copyright infringement.  Section 79 of the Information technology exempts the liability of the internet service providers in certain cases where they can prove that the offence has been committed without their knowledge.

The Super Cassettes

In the case of Super Cassettes Industries v Myspace Inc. & Anr.[vi] decided by Delhi High Court. The Super Cassettes is a very popular record label company in India also known as T-Series. That has many copyrights over its recording. The Myspace & Anr. has made available all the copyrighted content of T-Series without their permission for online downloading and streaming. T-Series went and approach the Delhi High Court and High Court said that making available the copyrighted content on the online platform without the permission and authorization of the copyright over amounts to copyright infringement.

In the case of Microsoft corporation v Yogesh Popat [vii]the plaintiff filed the case against the defendant for selling and installing the pirated version of Microsoft software in the computer which the company sells after assembling the parts. This case was file by the Microsoft Corporation against M/s Compton Computers Pvt. Ltd. and its directors for copyright infringement. The Delhi High held that the plaintiff’s copyright has infringe by the defendant and granted compensation of 23.62 lakhs.


An Intellectual Property Rights should protected as a person puts his skill and labour into it. And it is one of the valuable assets of an individual. The Copyright amendment act 2012, has strengthened the copyright law regime. In India which protects both online and offline copyright work. But technological advancements happening each day that needs laws to be evolved with the current needs of society. Which should address the new issues in copyright protection which has raised due to innovation in the digital world. There is also an immense need for society to be educate on the necessity of copyright protection. To prevent any unauthorized use of the system.


[i] Sec. 4, The Copyright Act, 1957.

[ii] Mr. Atul Satwa Jaybhaye, Cyber Law And IPR Issues: The Indian Perspective, Bharati Law Review, Manupatra, 2016.

[iii] Sec. 51, The Copyright Act, 1957.

[iv] Samuelson, Digital Media and the Changing face of Intellectual Property Law, Rutgers Company & Tech, (1990)

[v] Sangharsh Pandey, Changing Mechanism in Copyright Ontology: Digital Rights Management, Manupatra.

[vi] 2011 (48) PTC 49 (Del)

[vii] 2005 (118)DLT 580


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