HomeCase AnalysisMajor Cases Under The Copyright Act, 1957

Major Cases Under The Copyright Act, 1957

The rights connected to intangible property that is owned by a person or business and is prohibited from being used without permission are known as Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). So-called intellectual property rights are those that belong to the ownership of intellectual property. By allowing the producers of trademarks, patents, or works protected by copyright to profit from their works, these rights seek to protect intellectual property (creations of human intellect).

In order to reward human intelligence, IPR grants producers’ exclusive rights over their innovations, artistic creations, musical compositions, etc.

There are different kinds of Intellectual Property Rights in India, majorly 4 i.e; Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents and Designs. Trade Secrets, Plant Breeders Right and Geographical indications are other IP Rights.

The different forms of IPRs in India are governed by various legislations such as:

The Trade Marks Act, 1999 The Copyright Act, 1957 The Patents Act, 1970 and The Designs Act, 2000

This article will be dealing with major copyrights cases in India.


Copyright protects an individual’s legal right to financially exploit their unique, tangible creative work and forbids unauthorised duplication or reproduction. Patents grant rights to the idea itself, whereas copyright protects the expression of a notion rather than the concept itself. Original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works as well as cinematographic and sound recordings are protected by Section 13 of the Copyright Act of 1957. There are 79 Sections and XV Chapters in the Copyright Act, 1957.

According to the Copyright Act, owners have the sole right to reproduce a work, create a derivative work, circulate copies of a copyrighted work, transfer ownership of the work or a license to use it, perform the work in public, and display it.

The following types of works are often protected by copyright:

  • literary creations including books, plays, poems, and journal articles;
  • database applications and software;
  • Movies, music, and choreography
  • artistic creations like sculptures, paintings, drawings, and pictures
  • ads, technical drawings, and architectural


  1. Star India Ltd. vs. Moviestrunk.com & Ors., CS(COMM) 408/2019


Star India Pvt Ltd was a film production and distribution company. The plaintiff produces and distributes films in India along with its subsidiary Fox Star Studio, and it also possesses exclusive rights to a number of films. The cinematograph film “Mission Mangal” which was scheduled to be released on August 15, 2019, on over 2500 theatres in India, is the subject of the current lawsuit. According to the Copyright Act of 1957, the plaintiff and defendant No. 68, Cape of Good Films LLP, jointly own the intellectual property rights to the movie.


The plaintiff filed the current lawsuit against 67 named defendant-websites [defendant Nos. 1 to 67] who, in the plaintiff’s opinion, are involved in the business of transmitting third-party content and information through the internet, thereby providing illegal content, among other things, through hosting, streaming, and free public broadcasting.

In the current lawsuit, the plaintiff fears that illegally made copies of the movie will be distributed to the public and made available for viewing and/or downloading without the plaintiff’s consent. This will negatively affect the plaintiff’s business and, in the plaintiff’s view, violates the exclusive rights granted to it by Sections 14 and 51 of the Act.


Whether the plaintiff’s Copyrights were infringed by the defendants?


Section 14 & 51 of the Copyrights Act, granting exclusive rights to the plaintiff

Section 14 in the Copyright Act, 1957

14(d) – in the case of a cinematograph film—

  • to make a copy of the film including a photograph of any image forming part thereof;
  • to sell or give on hire or offer for sale or hire, any copy of the film, regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions;
  • to communicate the film to the public;

Section 51 in the Copyright Act, 1957

When copyright infringed—Copyright in a work shall be deemed to be infringed—

(a) when any person, without a licence granted by the owner of the copyright or the Registrar of Copyrights under this Act or in contravention of the conditions of a licence so granted or of any condition imposed by a competent authority under this Act—


The Law of Copyrights, i.e, The Copyright Act, 1957 Section 14 and 51 is granting exclusive rights to the plaintiff and is applicable in this case as the defendants have infringed the rights of the plaintiff by transmitting the Content (Mission Mangal movie) made by the plaintiff for free of cost.


According to the Hon’ble Court, it is clear from looking at the electronic scraps of evidence and the investigator’s affidavit that the plaintiff’s content (the movie Mission Mangal) has been streamed on the various defendant-websites illegally and without the plaintiff’s consent. Due to unauthorised streaming, the Hon’ble Court issued an ex-parte interim order against Defendant No. 1-67 as ‘Mission Mangal’ was being downloaded, distributed, and communicated via their websites.


After giving appropriate consideration to the aforementioned factors, the Hon’ble Court issued a decree in favour of the plaintiff against defendants nos. 1-67 and 69. The plaintiff was also awarded the real expenses of the case by the court, which included court costs and solicitors’ fees.

The court ordered an Injunction.

  1. The Chancellor, Masters & Scholars of the University of Oxford

Rameshwari Photocopy Services, (2016) 16 DRJ (SN) 678


Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Taylor & Francis (“Oxford”) filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Rameshwari Photocopy Services (“RPS”) and Delhi University (“DU”) in 2012 over the unauthorised use and reproduction of Oxford’s publications to create and sell “course packs,” which were collections of study materials for students’ reference. The RPS and DU were prohibited from creating and marketing these course packs, as well as from compiling them, by a temporary injunction issued by the Single Bench of the Delhi High Court. As defendants in the trial, the Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK) and the Society for the Promotion of Equitable Access and Knowledge (SPEAK) were also listed.

In September 2016, the Delhi High Court rendered a decision in favour of RPS and DU. According to the Court, the presence of copyright in literary works does not grant writers entire ownership of their works; rather, it is a privilege to stimulate advancement in the arts for the prosperity of the public mind. Oxford appealed the Single Bench’s ruling to the Division Bench.


Whether the course packs’ replication of certain sections violate anyone’s copyright?


Sections 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act, 1957.

Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act allows for fair dealing with copyrighted works for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, or news reporting.


The Delhi High Court ruled that educational institutions can make copies of copyrighted works for distribution among students and teachers for instructional purposes without infringing copyright.

On December 9th, 2016, the Delhi High Court Division Bench considered Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act to permit course packs to be made by printing copyrighted literary works. As a result, any copyrighted information that is duplicated by a teacher or a student during educational teaching is not considered to be infringing on copyright under Section 52 (1) (i) of the Copyright Act.

Accordingly, it was decided that regardless of the proportion of the work actually used, the sole test to be upheld when deciding whether the use of a copyrighted work was fair under Section 52(1)(i) was the necessity of the work in achieving the goal of educational instruction. It was also held that students were not potential buyers of the books used in the course packs because they would eventually refer to the same works in the library hence not having an unfavourable influence on Oxford’s market.


The Division Bench accordingly rejected Oxford’s appeal. The Court made it clear that RPS did not require a permit or a licence to copy. The Single Bench was assigned with making a factual assessment regarding whether the copyrighted works in the course packs were actually required for certain educational objectives. Oxford withdrew its lawsuit from the Delhi High Court on March 9, 2017.

Therefore, the Court held that the reproduction of copyrighted material for educational use falls under the fair use exception, as long as it is for instructional purposes and does not harm the market for the original work


 Section 15 of the Copyright Act addresses the dual protection or the issue of conflict between the design and copyright. According to the section, a design that has been registered under the Designs Act of 2000 would not be protected by copyright. As a result, the owner of the design must give up his or her rights under the Copyright Act when the design is registered under the Designs Act.

One such case is the following:

  1. Ritika Private Limited vs Biba Apparels Private Limited CS(OS) No.182/2011



The plaintiff has brought this lawsuit, claiming copyright in a number of designs and drawings she developed for dresses sold under the trade name/brand RITU KUMAR. The drawings and sketches are said to be distinctive, special, and associated with the plaintiff’s brand RITU KUMAR, which has a strong reputation and goodwill. It is argued that the sketches and garment prints made by the plaintiff for the dresses/garments are original. It is argued that the plaintiff’s ensembles are created in such a way that each part, including the sleeves, front and back panels, etc., is distinct and coordinated with special characteristics. It is claimed that the plaintiff keeps digital records of the production of each drawing and print by assigning it an identification code and name, which are also displayed in the invoices the plaintiff issues. Additionally, the plaintiff claims that the defendant has violated its trade secrets by hiring former workers of the plaintiff. Ritu Kumar reproduces the said designs on its apparels, more than 50 times.

The plaintiff in the case requested an injunction to prevent the defendant from reproducing, printing, publishing, distributing, selling prints or clothing that are a colorable imitation or substantial reproduction of the plaintiff’s prints and clothing. The defendant is also accused of violating additional related reliefs such as injunctions and rendition of accounts.


Whether Plaintiff can claim the copyright in the artistic works related to the garments?

Whether Plaintiff can claim trade secret violation by its ex-employees, being the Plaintiff ’s designs not registered under the Designs Act, 2000.


The definition of a ‘design’ under Section 2(d), excludes “any artistic work as defined in clause (c) of section 2 of the Copyright Act, 1957 (14 of 1957)”

Section 15(2) of the Copyright Act, 1957, states that “Copyright in any design, which is capable of being registered under the Designs Act, 2000 (16 of 2000), but which has not been so registered, shall cease as soon as any article to which the design has been applied has been reproduced more than fifty times by an industrial process by the owner of the copyright, or, with his licence, by any other person.”


Copyright would be present in the original work of art, and the author or holder would continue to benefit from the extended protection provided by the Copyright Act with regard to the original artistic work. So, for example, a well-known picture will still be protected as an artistic work under the Copyright Act. A design made from such a painting for industrial use on an article in order to produce one with features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornament, composition of lines, or combination of colours that is pleasing to the eye would also be entitled to design protection under the terms of the Designs Act.

Therefore, if the design is registered under the Designs Act, the Design would lose its copyright protection under the Copyright Act but not the original painting. If a design meets the requirements to be registered under the Designs Act but has not yet been done so, it will continue to be protected by copyright under the Act until the threshold of 50 applications of the design using an industrial method on an article is reached. However, if that threshold is crossed, the Copyright Act’s copyright protection would no longer apply. According to our interpretation, the Copyright Act and the Designs Act would be consistent with the legislative intent.


The single judge of the Delhi High Court, came to the conclusion that the suit was barred by Section 15(2) of the Copyright Act, 1957 as the Plaintiff’s copyright in the cited works had expired.

Ritu Kumar was therefore not only ineligible for design protection, but also ineligible to enforce its copyright in the design’s original drawing, as a result of replicating the aforementioned designs on its clothing more than 50 times. The court determined that there was no copyright infringement by noting the similarities between the Plaintiff’s prints and designs and the Defendant’s printed reproduction, but rather by concluding that the Defendant was using an industrial process to create apparel rather than simply stealing and attaching a print from the Plaintiff’s copyrighted work.

  1. Raj Rewal v Union of India &Ors, CS(COMM) 3/2018, IA 90/2018



Plaintiff is an acclaimed architect from India who is internationally recognised; the plaintiff has designed many important buildings throughout his forty-year distinguished career; some of the creations include the Hall of Nations, the Nehru Pavilion, the Asian Games Village, the National Institute of Immunology, the SCOPE Office Complex, and the Library for Indian Parliament.

The building housing the Hall of Nations was created by Mr. Raj Rewal and Mr. Mahendra Raj, who also served as structural designers. The aforementioned structure, which was built on the Pragati Maidan grounds in New Delhi, was acclaimed as a symbol of modernist Indian architecture. The Hall of Nations complex was intended to be demolished in 2016 by the ITPO (India Trade Promotion Organisation) in order to construct an “Integrated Exhibition cum Convention Centre.” Plaintiff made numerous attempts to stop the building from being demolished, but to no avail; ITPO got what it wanted. After the structure was demolished, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against ITPO, alleging that the acts of demolition had violated the plaintiff’s special rights under Section 57 of the Copyright Act.

The suit seeks a mandatory injunction against the Union of India and the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) to compensate the plaintiff by recreating the work of architecture in the Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavilion at the same location or at any other location in Delhi.


Whether an architect, as the creator and legal ‘author’ of a structure, has the right to object to modification or demolition of their work by the building’s owner?


Section 57 of The Copyright Act, 1957

Two types of copyright protection are granted under the Copyright Act of 1957, one of which is in the form of moral rights. The essential moral rights of an author or creator are described in Section 57 of this Act. The rights of paternity and integrity for authors are established in this section.

The right of paternity refers to the right of a creator or author to claim ownership or authorship of the work in question, as well as the right to prohibit others from claiming authorship of his or her work. By enabling the author to prohibit any type of distortion, mutilation, or other form of modification of his or her work, the right of integrity aids in maintaining the authenticity of the author’s work.

Section 13(1)(a) of the Copyright Act, copyright subsists in such artistic work


It was argued that Section 57(b) of the Copyright Act only gives rights in relation to the work’s distortion, mutilation, or modification and is not concerned with total destruction of the work when the work ceases to exist and is no longer visible. It was contended that utter obscurity of an architectural work is analogous to failing to display a work dealt with in explanation to Section 57(1) of the Act, which has been ruled not to be a violation of the rights given thereunder.

It was also argued that Section 57 is intended to allow the architect to either restrain modification or distortion of the work in order to remove the artistic elements in which the author has a copyright or to claim damages for the same; however, when the work is completely removed and is not in public view, the question of the same affecting the author’s rights does not arise.

In Karnataka State Financial Corporation Vs. N. Narasimahaiah [ (2008) 5 SCC 176], it was held that right to property although no longer a fundamental right is still a constitutional right and also a human right.


The Court rejected the plaintiff’s claims, framing the matter as a clash between two different rights: the architect’s rights under Section 57 and the landowner’s rights to do acts on their property.

The Court observed that the plaintiff in this case cannot be allowed to prevent the defendant from demolishing the building because doing so would restrict the defendant’s right to exercise control over their property and land, which is provided to them under Article 300A, which is a constitutional right that prevails over the plaintiff’s statutory rights, which they claim exist under Section 57 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

According to the Court, the author’s right under Section 57 to prohibit “distortion, mutilation, or modification of his work” does not allow an author to prevent the destruction of their work because “what cannot be viewed, seen, heard, or felt cannot be imperfect and cannot affect the author’s honour or reputation.”

As a result, the extent to which the architect’s right extends is to prohibit the building owner from making changes to the architect’s design and passing it off as though the architect developed the design.

Furthermore, the Court relied on Section 52(1)(x), which provides an exception to the architect’s copyright. The Court stated that Section 57 could not reasonably contemplate the right to object to demolishing a building.

In conclusion, the Court dismissed the suit due to a lack of cause of action against the demolition of the Hall of Nations.

  1. MRF vs Metro Tyres Limited, CS(COMM) 753/2017



In this case, the plaintiff, MRF Limited, is in the business of manufacturing, marketing, and selling tyres in around sixty-five nations, including India, and is well-known for its quality and customer satisfaction.

Throughout the course of its operations, the plaintiff has manufactured and sold a variety of tyres, one of which is known as MRF NV Series “REVZ.”

The plaintiff created an audio-visual advertising titled “MRF NV Series present REVZ” to publicise and advertise the MRF NV Series “REVZ” line of tyres, which was initially aired in TV media on June 27, 2015 and put on the internet on June 29, 2015.

Plaintiff is the author of said advertising, which is a ‘cinematograph work’ under Section 2(f) of the Copyright Act, 1957, and is entitled to protection under Section 14 of the Act, 1957, under the Indian copyright regime.

In October 2016, it came into knowledge of plaintiff that the defendant, who is involved in the same business had prepared a similar advertising titled ‘Bazooka Radial Tyres’.

The plaintiff thus claimed that it is clear that the defendant’s advertisement is nothing more than a substantial and material copy of the plaintiff’s advertisement, and that the defendant has infringed on the plaintiff’s copyright as a result of the similarities between the plaintiff’s and defendant’s advertisements. Following that, the plaintiff filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Plaintiff’s complaint was

conveyed to defendant by ASCI. When the defendant received the complaint, he filed a suit to prevent the plaintiff from issuing threats.


Whether in a claim for copyright infringement of a cinematograph film, the infringing duplicate must be either an exact copy generated by a duplication process or a material copy.


Section 2(f), Section 13(1), Section 14 of Copyright Act, 1957

2(f) cinematograph film means any work of visual recording 13(1) Works in which copyright subsists

  • original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works;
  • cinematograph films; and
  • sound recording

Section 14: Meaning of copyright.


While discussing the problem of copying the material and substantial part of the cinematograph, the court stated that the term of copying does not only include making an actual copy or physical copies of the cinematograph film, but also includes imitation and reproduction of such cinematograph. Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court noted that “the ordinary, dictionary definition of copy is not confined to an actual copy made by a duplication process, but is a broader one that includes an imitation or reproduction.”

In the case of R.G. Anand v. M/s Deluxe Films and Ors.,(1978 AIR 1613, 1979 SCR (1) 218) the court laid down a test to be applied to cinematographs, stating that “the scope of protection of a film is at par with other original works” and thus the test laid down in the R.G Anand case would also apply in cases of cinematographs. The Hon’ble High Court also observed that the standard established in the R.G. Anand case is of general application and is not restricted to literary work.


After observing the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ commercials and adopting the standard outlined in R.G. Anand v. M/s Deluxe Films and Ors. (supra), this Court concludes that the two advertisements are not significantly, materially, or fundamentally similar. In comparison to the defendants, the plaintiffs’ advertisement is more futuristic. Indeed, the expressions in both commercials are distinct. While the plaintiff’s commercial focuses on the tyre’s manufacturing process and radial design, the defendant’s advertisement focuses on the tyre’s durability by demonstrating how well it rides on all terrains.

As a result of the court’s above ruling, the application for injunction was denied, and Metro Tyres committed no violation of copyright (advertisement).


Law Wire Team
Law Wire Teamhttps://lawwire.in/
Law Wire Team attempts to delve into pertinent (and sometimes not immediately pertinent) questions regarding socio-politics, Law and their interesting matrix.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular