Licencing of Copyright

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A public license or public copyright license is a license by which a copyright holder as licensor can grant additional copyright permissions to any and all persons in the general public as licensees. ... According to the Open Knowledge Foundation, a public copyright license does not limit licensors either. The owner of the copyrights of any work may grant a license under the Copyright law to authorize a third party to use and distribute the copyrighted work. A copyright license may be exclusive or nonexclusive.

The term Exclusive License is defined in section 2(j) of the Copyright Act to mean and include a license and which confirms on the licensee and the persons authorized by him, to the exclusion of all other persons, any right comprised in the copyright of a work.

Although assignments and licenses are both contracts involved with the transfer of rights for exploitation of a copyrighted work, both have their own distinct features. A license is nothing but an authorization from the copyright owner to exercise certain acts, without which the acts are considered as infringement. Therefore, no transfer of ownership happens in cases of licenses.

On the contrary, an assignment involves the transfer of ownership of the copyright. In addition to this, the assignee being the owner of the copyright, is entitled to sue third parties against infringement of copyrights. The licensee, including the exclusive licensee, can exercise this right only if the same is specifically included in the terms of the agreement.


• The copyright owner may grant a license and transfer some or all of his rights to others to exploit his work for monetary benefits. A license is different from an assignment as licensee gets certain rights subject to the conditions specified in the license agreement but the ownership of those rights is not vested with him while in case of an assignment the assignee becomes the owner of the interest assigned to him. A license may be exclusive or of non-exclusive type. - Voluntary Licensing The owner of the Copyright in any existing or future work may grant any interest in the work by way of license. As regards the future works the license shall take effect only when the works comes into existence. For a license to be valid it must be in writing and signed by either the owner or his duly authorized agent. And where a person to whom a license relating to copyright in any future work dies before the work comes into existence, his legal representative shall be entitled to the benefit of the license. A License Agreement generally contains the following particulars: - Identification of the work licensed - Duration of the license - Territorial extent of the license

- Amount of royalty payable - Conditions relating to revision, extension and/or termination of license Any dispute in respect of the license shall be settled by the Copyright Board or by way of Arbitration. - Allowability of sub-licensing etc.

- Compulsory Licensing Compulsory Licensing can be invoked under certain circumstances with respect to both published works and unpublished works. Compulsory licenses can also be obtained for the purposes of production and publication or translation of the work. The procedure for obtaining compulsory licensing with respect to the Indian works and foreign works is different. - Compulsory licensing on Published Works With respect to the Indian works published or performed in public, compulsory licenses can be obtained by making a complaint to the Copyright Board on the ground that the owner has: • Refused to re-publish or allow the republication of the work or has refused to allow the performance of the work in public and by reason of such refusal the work is withheld from the public. • Refused to allow the communication of the work to the public by broadcast of the work or work in the sound recording on such terms, which the complainant considers reasonable.

• • • Refused to allow the performance of the work in pubic and by reason of such refusal work is withheld from public; Compulsory licensing on Published Works Compulsory licenses can also be obtained with respect to the unpublished works by making an application to the Copyright board in the following circumstances: • Author is dead • Author is unknown • Author cannot be traced • Author cannot be found


The evolution of Copyright Law in India is spread over three phases. The law of copyright was introduced in India during the reign of the British Rule in India via the British Copyright Act, 1911. This Act had very different provisions in comparison to today’s law. The term of the Copyright was life time of the author plus seven years after the death of the author. However the total term of copyright cannot exceed the period of forty-two years. The government could grant a compulsory licence to publish a book if the owner of copyright, upon the death of the author, refused to allow its publication. Registration of Copyright with the Home Office was mandatory for enforcement of rights under the Act. This was the first phase.The second phase was in 1914, when the Indian legislature under the British Raj enacted the Copyright Act of 1914. It was almost similar to the British Copyright Act of 1911. However the major change that was brought in this Act was the criminal sanction for infringement. The 1914 Act was constantly amended a number of times. Subsequently, India saw the third phase of its copyright law evolution in the introduction of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 which was enacted in order to suit the provisions of the Berne Convention. This Act was enacted by Independent India and is the main Act by which we are governed till date.


Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) is an RRO itself. There are RROs in almost 80 countries, ranging from sophisticated organizations with long histories to start-up organizations in developing countries. Most RROs belong to the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO).

RROs around the world work with different licensing models either required or permitted by their local copyright law. According to IFRRO’s Quick Guide there are three basic types of RRO licensing models.

Voluntary collective licensing

Voluntary collective licensing with legislative support

Legal licenses

Some RROs offer a combination of features from the three licensing models. RRO licenses can also differ in the number and types of works they include, the types of uses they allow, and their geographic scope.


- Brad Sherman and Lionel Bently,Intellectual Property Laws, oxford university press,Ist edition

- Bharat Law House Vs. Wadhwa AIR 1988,Del 6 - Coopinger.Intellectual property laws - Gramophone Co of India Ltd v. Shanti Films Corpn AIR 1997 Cal 63


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