The notion that expressive works are entitled to protection without scrutiny and, in many cases, without registration undertook the development of copyright law. Pre-publication protection would have been impossible under common law if prior scrutiny was necessary, because one of the principal goals of protection was to preserve the privacy of authors. Although registration is important in modern Indian copyright law, the country's primary idea is to protect authors without the need for them to register.
Because copyright laws protect expressions that are fixed in a tangible medium, the author is protected as soon as the work is documented in some physical form. The author's work is protected for 60 years after his or her death under the Copyright Act of 1957 (the Act). In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, the 60-year period begins the year after the author's death.
Copyright is reserved for the expression of an idea and does not extend to the very idea itself, according to the courts. When the expressive components of the work appear to be coextensive with the underlying idea, the courts are hesitant to give protection. In Baker v. Selden , for example, the copyrightability of an accounting system was at question. Because the defendants' account books were not organised in the same way as the original author's, the court decided that using the original author's principles or ideas, per se, was not infringement. The court stressed the distinction between the art, or the book's subject matter, and the description of the art, or its expression. Although the expression of the accounting system in question was copyrightable, the idea behind it was not. Thus, infringement would have occurred if the original author's forms of account were copied verbatim. All that had been taken from the author was the idea, or the art, which is not protected under copyright laws because the defendants' account books were arranged differently.
The most fundamental question in this case is, of course, the copyrightability of ideas. The concept or the very idea cannot be monopolised because anyone can borrow it. Except for the protection against replicating the original explanation of the system, the original author of a similar system of accounting or business process has very little protection.
The scope of copyrightable subject matter is determined by two basic principles:
The courts have time and now decided that when the utilitarian function and the non-utilitarian function are inseparable, there can be no protection or, conversely, that protection should not be fully denied when they are inseparable.
When there are limited methods to express a concept, the doctrine of merger is sometimes used to prevent copyrightability. The availability of various sorts of relief, as well as the idea-expression and utilitarian-non-utilitarian dichotomies, will determine whether or not a work is protected. The availability of patent or design patent protection, for example, may impact a court's decision to deny copyrightability. Although there is no legal prohibition against concurrent protection, the availability of other forms of protection, for example, may be significant to a court in assessing where a specific work falls on the functional-non-functional continuum.
Because any original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium from which the expression can be reproduced is copyrightable under the Act, there are only a few works left that are not covered by it. However, one topic intangible expressions remains firmly outside the scope of the Act. Choreography is an excellent example of this style of work. There is no law safeguarding a choreographer's creation of a dance or series of movements that is not reduced to a physical or tangible medium of expression. However, there is no doubt that protection would exist if the choreographer films their work and records it to choreographic notation.
Anyone who makes copies of a work without the author's or copyright owner's permission can be prosecuted for infringement, which can result in damages, attorney's fees, and even injunctive relief. Copyright protection gives the owner ownership over derivative works like plays, movies, and other adaptations of the primary work, as well as the ability to sue for damages and injunctive relief against anybody who creates a substantially comparable work based on it.
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