Copyright works like a sword with two-edges. Copyright helps to assure the rights of the author and publisher on the books. It protects the commercial interests of the author and the publisher and helps to get decent revenue by publishing books. Innovative ways have been introduced to ensure that copyright is not misused while distributing and using the work with the help of technologies.
Exemptions in Copyright Law
Fair use is granted for the usage of copyrighted materials for specific purposes. They are as follows:
- Copyrighted works can be used for personal study and research.
- It can be used for art and literary criticism and review.
- Media can use copyrighted works for reporting news.
- Usage concerning court proceedings.
- The clubs and societies can perform artistic works for the audience. But the money should not be collected.
- The making of sound recordings of literary, dramatic or musical works based on original works certain conditions are allowed.
There is a lack of awareness among people about copyright exemptions. Five publishing houses together had filed a case in the Delhi High Court alleging that their books were being copied by Delhi University and a private photocopy firm. The Delhi University and the photocopying firm received a positive verdict from the Court on the ground that copying of books is meant only to use for study purposes.
The following actions can lead to copyright infringement:
- Unauthorized sale or lease of copies of art and literary works.
- Performance of art and literary works in a public place without the permission of the copyright owner.
- Distribution of unauthorized versions of art and literary works.
- Display and sale of unauthorized versions of art and literary works in public places.
- Unauthorized importing of art and literary works into India.
A copyright owner can launch legal action against anyone who infringes on the copyright of his works. The punishment of copyright infringement carries a maximum penalty of six months to three years and a fine ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 200,000. Since India is a member of all the major International Intellectual Property agreements, copyrighted foreign works get protection in India.
Book Publishing and Copyright
Generally, the author is the copyright holder of the book. Often the author grants copyright to the publisher as part of the publication contract. Large publishing houses publish the work after transferring the copyright from the author to the publisher. In such cases, the copyright is vested with the publisher.
The author can grant the right to one or more publishing houses to publish and sell the book without handing over the copyright. Authors can sanction the rights to making a film or a television series based on the book. Title Verso of the book (Reverse side of the title page) indicates the copyright information. It shows whether the copyright is with the author or publisher.
Digital Rights Management
Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a systematic way of protecting the copyright of digital works. The goal of Digital Rights Management is to limit the use of digital versions among authorised users, prevent unauthorised distribution, and prevent from copying the content. Such control systems work, based on software technology.
Let us take a look at the various ways, digital rights management works in the field of e-book publishing. The Amazon Company is a leading e-book publisher. Amazon company’s Kindle e-reader can be used to read the e-books purchased from Amazon. Special apps are also available for reading the Amazon e-book on mobile and computer devices. Users can download and save the books to the computer or mobile. But permission is not granted to print or give to others. Amazon e-books cannot be read using other e-book readers (e.g., Kobo).
There are many online services to watch movies and series online. For example, one can watch movies on payment using Google’s YouTube channel. When you rent a movie, the user gets 30 days to watch it. Once you start watching the film, it has to be finished within 48 hours.
Each company has its own strategies for digital rights management. Publishers can restrict copyright violations of their products and increase revenue using digital rights management techniques. Allowing to read books in a limited time, limiting the usage of books to a certain number of devices, and allowing one or two friends of the user to read the e-book on their devices are the common DRM strategies usually practised by publishers.
The power of copyright in the publishing industry has affected the availability of publications for educational and research activities in developing countries. Major research publishing houses make available research publications (books and journals) as digital versions. The high prices of publications are not affordable to countries like India. Normally, the e-journals are subscribed by an institution for one year, and the access to the same will cease after the specific period. The publishers do not provide options to store the publications permanently. Libraries and institutions are not able to own the copies of the publications. The publishers consider them as mere users of the publications in digital formats.
Copyright is good for both the author and the publisher. Copyright creates monopolization in the publishing industry and hinders the smooth exchange of knowledge. The use of publications is essential for the growth of education and research. The popularity of the Internet has opened up possibilities for authors to control the publishing process. Works resulting from publically funded activities in the education and research field are to be made available to the public. Policies are to be formulated to exempt such works from the copyright.