Copyrights and Copywrongs

Presented on 2022-03-10. For the National Museum Institute's course on art management.



Pranesh Prakash

Centre for Internet and Society

Affiliated Fellow
Information Society Project, Yale Law School


CC-BY-SA 4.0: (copy, share, adapt: sharing is caring)

no proprietary standards or software were used in the making of this slide deck


What do you understand by that word?

Why do you think copyright exists?

Who benefits from copyright?

How long does it last?

When does copyright arise?


Generally covers:

  1. Reproduction
  2. Issuing copies
  3. Communicating to the public
  4. Adaptation
  5. Translation
  6. Performance
  7. (Rental, sometimes)


Who is an author?


Is the author a solitary genius?

… or are creative works socially created?








"the text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture"

"It is language that speaks, not the author"

–Roland Barthes



"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different".

– T.S. Eliot


Required reading:
Jonathan Lethem's
"The Ecstasy of Influence"


Under law, author is sometimes the "creator", sometimes the "financier".

Complex history going back to 1710.


Why aren't directors or singers or actors granted copyright?

Why does Copyright Exist?

Hegelian justification

Why does Copyright Exist?

Lockean justification

Why does Copyright Exist?

Law-and-Economics justification

Why does Copyright Exist?

Public social good justification

Can expression be "property"?

Can intangible things be property?

Can ideas be copyrighted?

Idea-expression dichotomy

(unlike patent law)

Can ideas be copyrighted?

Tragedy of the commons?


Tragedy of the anticommons?

How long should copyright last?

Initially, licence lasted 2 years.
Under Statute of Anne, 7 years.


How long should copyright last?

Under Indian law, now:

Throughout author's life + 60 years after death.

How long should copyright last?

Does this make sense if we view copyright as an incentive to create?

Copyright by default?

What should get copyright protection?


Thousands of copies are made in your computer, in RAM, etc.

Impossible not to violate copyright law.


Until 2011, search engines were illegal in India.

News companies accuse Google of being a free-rider.

(But aren't journalists free-riders?)


Technological protection measures.

Copyright in India

Colonial legacy

Copyright in India

Common law

Statutes in 1914 and 1957

Copyright in India

Berne + TRIPS


International lock-in

Copyright in India

  • Section 14: What is covered by 'copyright'.

  • Section 17: Default owner of copyright.

  • Section 18: Assignment

  • Sections 22-29: Term of copyright.

  • Section 30: Licensing

  • Sections 31-32B: Compulsory/statutory licensing

  • Section 51: What counts as 'infringement'

  • Section 52: Exceptions

  • Section 57: Moral rights

Copyright in India

52(1)(p): the reproduction, for the purpose of research or private study, or with a view to publication, of an unpublished literary, dramatic or musical works kept in a library, museum or other institution to which the public has access: Provided that where the identity of the author of any such work or, in the case of a work of joint authorship, of any of the authors is known to the library, museum or other institution, as the case may be, the provisions of this clause shall apply only if such reproduction is made at a time more than sixty years from the date of the death of the author or, in the case of a work of joint authorship, from the death of the author whose identity is known or, if the identity of more authors than one is known from the death of such of those authors who died last;

Contact Details


Copyrights and Copywrongs

By Pranesh Prakash

Copyrights and Copywrongs

Presentation, made on 2022-03-10 for NMI course.

  • 588