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  • Writer's pictureGandhi & Associates

Copyright Piracy in the 21st Century

With the advent of technology, a new kind of robbery has now started doing the rounds of the legal world. Online piracy is truly a menace to the cyber world. Internet piracy has become a huge copyright issue, in the past few years. The unhindered growth of technology along with the increase in cybercrimes has made internet piracy issues quite common in today’s day and age.

Copyright Infringement

Let us start by telling you what Copyright Infringement means. Copyright Infringement is the use or production of copyright-protected material without the permission of the copyright holder / the owner. It pertains to the violation of the copyright owner’s Intellectual Property (IP). The minimum punishment for an infringement of copyright is imprisonment for not less than 6 months and up to 3 years with a minimum fine of Rs. 50,000/-.

This is no different if you buy a music track or a book, (you buy the right, i.e. a license, to play that music, or to read that book, for yourself – you don’t own it outright). If you wanted full ownership of any protected material, you would need to purchase the copyright from the owner. This is called an ‘assignation of copyright’. It needs to be a written document, signed by the owner and transfers the title/ownership in the material to you in full.

Governing Authorities

A copyright society is a registered collective administration society. A copyright society can issue or grant licenses in respect of any work in which copyright subsists or in respect of any other right given by the Copyright Act. The following are the registered copyright societies in India:

  1. For Cinematograph and Television Firms: Society for Copyright Regulation of Indian Producers of Films and Television (SCRIPT)

  2. For Musical Works: The Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS)

  3. For Sound Recording: Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)

Consequences of Copyright Infringement

In a recent case of Super Cassettes Industries Pvt. Ltd. vs. Prime Cable Network and Anr., the Delhi High Court passed a decree of permanent injunction against the Prime Cable Network and in favor of Super Cassettes and also decreed in the sum of INR 8.1 Lakhs in favor of Super Cassettes to be paid by the infringer Prime Cable.

In Microsoft Corporation and Ors. Vs. Satveer Gaur and Ors., the Delhi high court in view of the magnitude of the violation carried out by the infringer, Microsoft shall be entitles to damages to a tune of INR 30 Lakhs.

On 1st April 2015 the Delhi District Court recently heard the case of Skullcandy Inc., vs. M/s Sine Star & Anr wherein the Court passed an order of Permanent Injunction in favor of the Skullcandy i.e. (the Plaintiff) and awarded damages at INR. 35, 000/- from each of the Defendants.


Copyright infringement is a cognizable offense and any police officer, not below the rank of a sub-inspector, can seize without a warrant, all copies of the work, and all plates used for the purpose of making infringing copies of the work, to be produced before a magistrate. There are a host of issues with online copyright infringement laws in India. The challenge is all the more difficult to deal with because of the rate of growth of new technology. The judiciary is taking its time to deal with such cases and to form guidelines about various scenarios in the digital world that can enhance issues like online piracy.

Please feel free to reach out to any member of the G&A Team in case you require any clarifications on the above.

Gandhi & Associates

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