REGISTER COPYRIGHT FOR A WEBSITE IN INDIA?
constitutes a website?
A website may be understood as a webpage or
set of interconnected webpages. They are made available online to members of
public through a server. The members can access the information on a website
through various means such as scrolling webpages, using hypertext links or
through a search engine.
parts of the Website are copyrightable?
Website consists of different components in
different form of digital files such as text, tables, computer programmes,
compilations including computer databases; photographs, paintings, diagram,
map, chart or plan; works consisting of music and including graphical notation
of such work which may be copyrightable within any one of the classes of works
such as literary works, artistic works, musical works, sound recordings and
cinematograph films as set forth under the Copyright Act, 1957.
parts of the Website are not copyrightable?
The functional elements of a website, layout
and format of a website or ‘look and feel’ of a website, other unoriginal
material such as names; icons or familiar symbols cannot be copyrightable.
Thus, a website as a whole is not subject to copyright protection.
should you Copyright a website?
There are several advantages to get your
website copyrighted with the Copyright Office, Government of India. These
• Copyright registration serves as a public
record of your copyright ownership
• Copyright registration serves as prima facie
evidence in a court of law with reference to dispute relating to ownership of
• Copyright registration is invaluable right
for you to initiate civil or criminal action against the infringer. Statutory
damages are awarded for each work infringed and do not require you to prove
your monetary loss or the infringer’s gain. Conversely, the infringer found
guilty would be liable for punishment for imprisonment for not less than 6
months and up to 3 years, or fine of at least Rs.50,000/- to Rs.2,00,000/-.
• Copyright registration provides for
protection against infringement in several countries across the world, although
the work is first published in India, as India is a member of the Berne
owns the copyright to your website?
As stated earlier, a website is often a
compilation of things text, graphics, photographs, video and computer programs
created by several people. As an author you only own the copyright to the parts
of a website that you created, unless copyrights to the other parts have been
transferred to you.
• If the website was created by your employees
as part of their regular job, you will own the copyright.
• If you hire someone to create a website for
your business, the person you hired owns the copyright to whatever they
created. If you want to own the copyright to all of the copyrightable portions
of your website, you will need work for hire agreements or assignment
agreements transferring the copyrightable content to you.
• Similarly, if you are a website designer,
you own the copyright to the copyrightable portions of your designs and
content, unless you have signed a written agreement transferring those rights
to someone else.
are the exceptions to registration of a copyright for a website?
• A copyright registration only covers the
copyrightable elements of your website that you identify and submit to the
copyright office as part of your registration. Thus, a separate application
should be made for each element of the website.
• Updates to website must be registered
separately unless they fall within limited exceptions for automatic updates and
• If you developed a computer program, such as
an html program, that establishes the format of text and graphics when a
website is viewed on a computer screen, you can register a copyright in the
computer programme, but the registration will not cover the contents of the
is the registration procedure?
To register a copyright, you must submit three
things to the Copyright Office, Government of India:-
• A completed paper application form or an
online application along with an acknowledgement slip.
• A filing fee of Rs.500/- apart from the prescribed
fee for the class of work as mentioned on the copyright office website has to
• A copy or copies of your work that will not
be returned to you has to be submitted in a digital format or as prescribed by
the copyright office. In the case of copyright for a website, a copy of the
source code and the object code must be submitted compulsorily as opposed to
screenshots of the website.
By Shiv Mangal Sharma &
Advocate Supreme Court