Date: 19th January, 2021
by Dikshita Singla, UILS, Panjab University
Federal copyright law protects original creative works such as paintings, writing, architecture, movies, software, photos, dance, and music. A work must meet certain minimum requirements to qualify for copyright protection. The extent of protection is based upon the fact that when the work was first published.
The doctrine of Fair Dealing is an exception to the law that protects any material that must be considered to be protected under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. It is a legal doctrine where a person is permitted to use any work which is copyrighted under the Act with restricted usage of such work to preserve its originality.
Fair use is one of the restrictions to copyright provided to balance the interests of copyright holders with the public interest in the distribution. Use of creative works is also protected under the same by acting as a defence to copyright infringement claims. It limits the uses that might otherwise be considered infringement.
Unlike "fair dealing" rights that exist in most countries with British legal history, the fair use right is an exception that applies to various kinds of uses with all kinds of works and turns on a flexible proportionality test. This test is done to inspect the purpose, amount, and impact of copying on the original work.
The doctrine of "fair use" came into existence in the Anglo-American common law during the 18th and 19th centuries to prevent copyright law from being too strictly applied.
1. Civic Chandran vs Ammini Amma (1996) PTR 142-
In this case, the Court considered that an imitation did not constitute an infringement of copyright as long as it has not been misused or misappropriated.
In this case, the Court introduced the following three tests which need be taken into consideration to determine work to be an infringement of copyright:
“the quantum of the matter taken in consideration to the comments or criticism;
the purpose for which it is taken; and
the possibility of competition between the two works.”
2. India TV Independent News Services Pvt. Ltd. vs Yashraj Films Pvt. Ltd FAO(OS) 583/2011-
The defendants, in this case, India TV aired a show on its channel documenting the life of the singers wherein the singers were shown to perform their songs, however during their performance, clips of a movie scene were shown to play in the background.
The plaintiff, that is, Yashraj Films Private Limited claimed that such a scene of the movie in the background amounts to infringement of its Copyright.
The defendants took the defence of fair dealing under Section 52. The Delhi Court dismissed the defence of fair dealing and restrained the defendants from the production, distribution, and broadcasting or in any way exploiting any cinematograph film, sound recording, or part thereof which is owned by the Plaintiff. It was through the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 that fair dealing was brought within its scope musical recordings and cinematograph films.
Through this case, the Indian legal system made progress in the field of fair dealing under Copyright by overlooking the firm approach and implementing the necessary changes.
By provisions of Copyright Act, 1957 under Indian Legal system, section 52 provides certain acts or works that cannot be categorized as an infringement of copyright specifically fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work not being a computer program for the certain purposes.