08 Jun Copyright Infringement
GS Paper II & III
Source: The Hindu
By: Ayush Babu
The Supreme Court has passed a far reaching judgment resolving the
question of whether copyright infringement which is punishable with
imprisonment for a term which may extend upto 3 years under the
Copyright Act of 1957 is a cognizable offense under the code of CrPC,
1973, in Knit Pro International V. The state of NCT judgment.
About Copyright Act
● The Copyright Act, 1957 paves the way for 3 years of jail with fine.
● It extends to whole of India
Consequences of the judgment
● Making copyright infringement a cognizable offense will pave the way
for police to impinge on civil liberties.
● The immediate consequence of this judgment is that many copyright
owners, especially in the software and music industries, will use the
threat of police involvement to scare potential infringers to extort
license fees in excess of the amount payable in a scenario where the
police cannot get involved without prior judicial authorisation.
● As a result of the offense being made cognizable and non-bailable, it
takes away the right of the accused to post a bail bond with the police
and shifts the responsibility on to the courts for judicial determination
on a case by case basis.
● Section 52 of the copyrights act talks about the fair use, that cannot
be determined properly by the investigating officer.
Background of Copyright Act in India
● In 1914, when the British extended the imperial copyright act, 1911 to
India, copyright infringement was punishable only with a monetary
● It was in independent India that introduced imprisonment for one year
as punishment for the offense of copyright infringement in 1957.
● Since 1957, the prison term for copyright infringement has been
tripled by Parliament to Three years.
International convention on copyright
● Article 61 of the The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) requires criminal measures to be
applied for at least “willful copyright piracy” on a commercial scale.
● Although copyright piracy itself remains undefined in TRIPS.
● India’s international law obligations under the TRIPS do not require
India to criminalize all kinds of copyright infringement.
All piracy of copyright work is an act of infringement but all infringement
cannot be termed as piracy.