Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection granted under Indian law to the creators of original works of authorship such as dramatic, musical, artistic work and literary works including computer programs, tables, and compilations including computer database which may be expressed in words, codes, schemes or in any other form.

Which software can be copyrighted:

Copyright can be obtained for all original computer programs, tables, and compilations including computer database in any tangible form. Software copyright can be obtained for a computer or mobile programs by consolidating it in a disk, magnetic tape, ROM or on a paper.

One of the compulsory requirements for the copyright registration of the software is the originality of the software, the creator must have used his/her skills and knowledge to create unique software. A program that has a technical effect and can create only multiplication tables or algorithms is not eligible for software copyright in India. Another requirement is that software must be filed and published in India, if the work first published anywhere outside India, then the creator must be a Citizen of India.

The Copyright Act, 1957 deal with the registration, infringement rights under Software Copyright in India, if the software has a technical effect, a Patent can be obtained for the same under the Indian Patent Act, 1970.

Rights available through Software Copyright:

Once the registration for software copyright completed, the creator of the software gets the following intellectual property rights:

  • The right to reproduce the work in any form and store it any electronic form.
  • The right to issue copies to the public.
  • The right to display the software in the public.
  • The right to create any adaptation of the work.
  • The right to translate the work.
  • The right to sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire a copy of the computer program.

However, the rights given under the software copyright are limited in case of the copy or adaptation of the program is done by an authorized person to utilize the software for the purpose it was created for, or to make backup copies to protect the software from loss or damage.

Process of Software Copyright Registration in India:

Software Copyright registration is done with the copyright office. An application for registration of the software copyright must be filed with 3 copies of the published or unpublished work. It must be filed along with prescribed fees. A diary number is allotted to the applicant, after which, the application is kept open for 1 month to receive any objections against the Software Copyright.

After one month, the Software Copyright registration is granted and a notice of copyright can be placed on the copies of such software.

Software Copyright Infringement in India:

The provision for copyright infringement is provided under section 51 of the Copyright Act. The provision defines infringement as any act that the owner has exclusive rights to do so, performed by a person without authorization from the owner. The Act provides civil remedies that the owner of the software copyright can resort to including temporary or permanent injunction, monetary compensation, and statutory damages in case of infringement of software copyright.

Criminal action can also be taken in case of software copyright infringement in India. Under the Copyright Act, a person who knowingly uses the unauthorized copies of software is guilty of infringement and is punishable with imprisonment for not less than 7 days and up to 3 years along with a fine between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2 lakh. Abetment of infringement is also considered as a crime and is punishable with imprisonment of up to 3 years along with a fine of up to 2 lakh.


There is a tremendous interest in protecting intellectual property created. Every year thousands of crores are spent on research and development of software products. The copyright protection is more apt for protection of software. The creator of software becomes eligible to take legal action in case of infringement of his right.  It is pertinent for the creator to obtain software copyright at the earliest stage to avoid unauthorized use of his work.

– Kiranpreet Kaur

Associate Partner at Aggarwals & Associates, S.A.S Nagar (Mohali)


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